Town considers more personal forum
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 09:03 am
Turner Valley residents may be addressing their candidates one on one at next month’s election forum.
During last week’s Town council meeting, council requested administration organize October’s election forum so candidates are stationed in a round table format where citizens can address them individually with any questions they may have. The format was used last year and many people found it successful, said Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck.
“We got lots of positive feedback from the roundtable discussions,” she said. “I really want the public to feel like they have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with all of the candidates in a comfortable setting.”
Turner Valley administration is expected to present council with a format for the meeting at its Sept. 16 council meeting. The forum will likely take place in mid-October and the municipal elections are scheduled for Oct. 21.
In past years, the format had citizens address the panel of candidates as a whole in a typical election forum format.
However, Tuck said the format was a disadvantage to new candidates and not all residents had the opportunity to ask questions.
“Anybody who was new really couldn’t answer any of the questions,” she said. “If there are independent questions about what’s ongoing in the town they can go to the councillor and mayor if they are running again.”
Tuck, who is running for re-election, said she would like to see each candidate speak and then have the public approach them one-on-one for a timed chat. When their time is up, arrangements can be made to meet with the candidate if further discussion is required, she said.
During the last election forum, Tuck said the public addressed all the candidates in a large forum followed by the round table style gathering.
“Some people have problems asking questions in public,” she said. “For new candidates that are running it will be good for them too because they will be able to talk about their platform one-on-one with people.”
Coun. Dona Fluter, who experienced three election forums in Turner Valley, said she likes the idea of the public addressing candidates individually.
“We just felt people got more out of the round tables than they did at the actual forums where they stand up and it’s a free for all,” she said. “You can ask questions but not everybody on the panel gets to answer it. In this respect maybe there is one thing you are passionate about and you can go and ask that question to each and every one of them.”
The typical forums haven’t always been successful, Fluter said.
“There’s been elections where there hasn’t been hot topics and there has been elections where there was,” she said. “It can sometimes take away from the ability of the voters to really garner the information they are looking to get. They get focused on one thing and nothing else gets covered.”
Turner Valley resident Maureen Nelson said she likes the round table format and hopes to see it at next month’s election forum.
“It worked well at the last election,” she said. “If someone has an ax to grind and gets up there that isn’t the format for that. It’s to get to know the people who would run your town for you, to get the idea of the reasons they are running and what’s behind it.”
Nelson said the round table format is a great opportunity for residents who don’t have specific questions to listen in on conversations, something she did during the last election.
“Sometimes people would be asking a question I wanted an answer to,” she said. “You’re able to hear just generally cruising around. It’s a good format and it takes the politicking out of it.”
Those interested in running for mayor or one of six council positions in Turner Valley must be a resident of Alberta for the past six months, a resident of Turner Valley on the date of signing the nomination papers, a Canadian citizen and be 18 years or older.
Candidates must have a minimum of five eligible electors sign their nomination paper and must submit the form on Sept. 23 between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. at the Turner Valley Town Office. Deposits are not required.
Nomination packages are available at the town office. For more information go to www.turnervalley.ca