Sturgeon County and Morinville to hold election forums
New groups step up to host Namao and speed-dating events
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 09, 2013 06:00 am
Sturgeon County residents will have two more chances next week to see Sturgeon County and Morinville candidates in action at electoral forums.
The Namao Community Agricultural Society is hosting a Division 1, 2, and 4 forum on Oct. 15 at the Namao School.
This is the group’s first forum, said spokesperson Layla Pretzlaff said, and they hope it goes well.
“Last election there were so many acclamations,” she said, so she was glad to see a full slate running this time. “I want to get everyone in the county excited about municipal politics and out there voting.”
The Namao forum will feature candidates from Divisions 1, 2 and 4, (the ones around Namao), plus the two mayoral candidates, Pretzlaff said. She wanted to do all six divisions but couldn’t get enough space at the school, she added.
The event will start with three simultaneous one-hour debates for Divisions 1, 2 and 4 held in the school’s gym, foyer and stage areas, Pretzlaff said, followed by a separate hour-long debate between mayoral candidates Don Rigney and Tom Flynn. Each debate will be moderated by a resident from the appropriate division, with Pretzlaff herself moderating for Division 1 and the mayoral debate.
The debates will be open-mike with candidates given one minute to respond to each question. Some of these questions may come from Grade 6 students at Namao School. Candidates may observe other debates, but will not be allowed to ask questions, Pretzlaff said.
As of Monday, candidates Ferd Caron, Dan Derouin, Susan Evans, Tom Flynn, Jerry Kaup, Don Rigney and Thomas Yurchak had told the Gazette that they planned to attend the Namao forum.
The Namao forum runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. this Oct. 15. The mayor’s debate starts at 7:30 p.m. in the gym. Visit namaoag.ca for details.
Speed dating in Morinville
Meanwhile, Morinville residents will get to spend some quality time with their candidates at the Community Cultural Centre this Oct. 15 through an all-new forum format: speed dating, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Morinville.
The Rotary Club stepped in to take over the forum from Morinville News after its publisher, Stephen Dafoe, entered the election race, said forum host Garry Hodgins. This is the first time the club has hosted an electoral forum.
Having 20 candidates in a traditional forum posed some big logistical problems, Hodgins said – introductions alone would take up an hour, and each question would get answered 20 times.
“That didn’t sound very exciting to me,” he said.
After consulting with residents, the club decided to go with a speed-dating format. First, the candidates will assemble on stage and give a three-minute introduction, with speaking order determined by draw.
Club member Gib Boddez will serve as timekeeper.
“He’s going to be wearing a sheriff’s hat and hopefully a sheriff’s badge if he can find one,” Hodgins said.
Boddez shall remove the hat when each speaker has 30 seconds left, and sit down when his or her time is up.
“Any cheaters run the risk of being carried out by the sheriff’s posse,” he joked.
After introductions, candidates will go to their designated tables, accompanied by a Rotary Club member who will serve as moderator. Residents will go to the candidate of their choice and have three minutes to ask them whatever they want. After three minutes, residents may switch to a new table for a new conversation, for a total of 20 potential conversations after an hour.
As of Monday, every Morinville candidate except for Christa Naughton and Jennifer Laurence had told the Gazette that they planned to be at the Rotary forum.
Hodgins asked residents to come with questions and respect for all the candidates.
“You’ve got to appreciate these people coming forward to stand for these positions,” he said.
He guessed that about 400 people could be at the event.
“I’ve been told to expect a full house.”
The Morinville forum runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. this Oct. 15. Call Hodgins at 780-446-7134 for details.