Leaders of Tomorrow forum draws wide-range of people
Candidates in the civic and school trustee elections came out to chat
| Posted: Friday, Oct 18, 2013 02:30 pm
The last forum in the civic race to fill seats at the council table offered a different flavour of voter interaction at the Enjoy Centre Wednesday night.
The Leaders of Tomorrow forum, hosted by Junior Chamber International, put out tables and had candidates moving throughout the room, sitting at each table for about six minutes a session. Usually there were two candidates at the table the Gazette sat at, though occasionally confusion amongst the candidates led to there being more or less during different sessions.
Most, but not all, council candidates were at the forum. Mayoral candidate Shelley Biermanski was there before the event began but had to leave due to a family emergency. Council candidate John Goldsmith did not attend. All of the public school trustee candidates attended, and Dave Caron, a candidate for the Catholic school board, attended after another event held for the Catholic trustees that night.
The format allowed attendees the chance to interact with candidates in a more intimate setting and ask a variety of questions.
At the table the Gazette was seated at, questions ranged from inquiries about the St. Albert Think Tank's endorsements to conversations about light rail transit to wondering what candidates' priorities were. Occasionally it was tough for candidates to get a word in edgewise if another candidate was talking, while at other times candidates were able to split the time more evenly with each other.
"I thought it went really well," said forum organizer Ed Ramsden. He noted there were some good conversations, and some bad, but candidates got to learn time management skills while working the table.
While the forum was aimed at young professionals, a wide variety of voters made their way through the doors. Ramsden said 10 tables were put out and almost every seat was full, so between candidates and forum attendees there were about 100 people there.
"We honestly had no idea what we were going to get," Ramsden said, noting it was great the room was full.
Attendees at the table the Gazette stayed at for the evening thought the format's concept was good, but noted school trustee candidates didn't get as much attention and it was a bit hard to hear.
"I was a bit apprehensive to start," said Dawne Fowler, though she liked the concept as well as the opportunity to meet the candidates. She did note the challenge for school board candidates to get a chance to speak when municipal candidates were at the table.
School trustee candidates "got the short end of the stick," said attendee Patrick Howard. Howard, in his mid-twenties, attended the forum because he grew up in St. Albert and is interested in the election.
Like Fowler, he appreciated the chance to ask questions of the candidates personally rather than just get brochures.