| Posted: Saturday, Oct 12, 2013 06:00 am
A St. Albert city council candidates forum planned for Oct. 16 has been cancelled by the group known as St. Albert Think Tank.
The group cited a scheduling conflict with another forum dubbed the Leaders of Tomorrow as one of the reasons for the cancellation.
"A conflicting event has been scheduled at the same time as the forum, which has divided the opportunity for all the candidates to attend both events on the same evening," says the press release provided by Gord Hennigar, the Think Tank's spokesperson.
"We also recognize that several of our issues were discussed at the recent SATA (St. Albert Taxpayers Association) forum. As a result, we realized that the forum is no longer necessary to give residents the information about the candidates' positions on our issues."
St. Albert Think Tank is a group of citizens that have been placing newspaper ads criticizing some of the decisions made by the current council. The group had remained completely anonymous until last week when Hennigar stepped forward as its spokesperson. The group hasn't publicly listed the names of its leaders or members.
Friday's release says that the candidates who'd declined to come to the Think Tank forum had also declined the opportunity to fill out the group's questionnaire.
The Think Tank forum cancellation comes after several would-be councillors expressed frustration at the double-booking, feeling they had to keep the commitment they'd made to the Think Tank.
Bob Russell had been planning on going to the Think Tank forum but said he'd "absolutely" be heading to the Leaders of Tomorrow forum now instead.
"That's good news as far as I am concerned," Russell said, noting the latter forum offers a chance to connect with a younger voting demographic.
Candidate Ted Durham said he wished each of the forums could have been held at different times, but he'll gladly be going to the Leaders of Tomorrow forum.
"If (the Think Tank forum) was cancelled, of course I am," Durham said.
About half of the candidates had been planning on going to the Think Tank forum and half were planning to attend the Leaders of Tomorrow event at the Enjoy Centre. That forum is being hosted by Junior Chamber International.
Organizer Ed Ramsden said all candidates are welcome and that organizers are working hard to ensure a good event.
"If more candidates want to show up, that's great," Ramsden said when told about the Think Tank cancellation.
In an interview earlier in the week, Ramsden said he came up with the idea to have a forum targeted to young professionals after attending a Rotary event in early October and finding himself inspired to create engagement.
"I left that keynote inspired and put together the plan," Ramsden said.
The Leaders of Tomorrow forum is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the Park Room at the Enjoy Centre on Oct. 16, with a "speed-dating" format that will allow more informal discussion with the candidates and the public. Ramsden said school trustee candidates have also been invited and he expects that some will attend.
Ramsden said he hadn't intentionally chosen the 16th to deliberately conflict with the Think Tank forum.
"No, not at all," he said. "We're looking forward to putting on a positive event."