Dismal attendance at Turner Valley forum
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 09:23 am
Less than a dozen people filed into the Sheep River Library last week to listen to the positions of candidates running for next week’s municipal election in Turner Valley.
Mayor Kelly Tuck, who is returning by acclamation, said she was disappointed only 11 members of the public attended the Oct. 9 forum, which gave the public an opportunity to meet face-to-face with individual candidates.
“The fact that we didn’t get a turnout makes me go, what’s up?” she said. “I guess it’s because there are no issues and there hasn’t been over the last three years.”
Tuck said she never saw such a low turnout at an election forum before and hopes more will attend the next event on Oct. 16 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the same location.
“Maybe we did this one too soon and the 16th when it’s closer to the election will get the engagement,” she said.
Each candidate was given three minutes to speak before the public was given the opportunity to speak to candidates individually.
Turner Valley resident Heather Pfeil questioned incumbent Terry Moore about his view on sharing resources with other communities and possibly amalgamating with neighbour Black Diamond.
“I believe in sharing resources and ideas,” Moore replied. “If you try to stand alone you are going to fail. Because of all the sharing resources we do it’s going to evolve into one municipality, one administration and one council. I think everybody is in agreement that sharing resources is logical.”
Moore said it will also ease up on taxes for residents.
Pfeil said when she moved to Turner Valley she opposed amalgamation, fearing the community could lose its identity, but now sees a benefit to the two communities joining together.
At incumbent Barry Williamson’s table, Katie Pearson questioned council’s recent decision to purchase a $150,000 portable for its municipal building when it plans to find a new town office in the near future.
Williamson replied the decision is a cost savings for the community over other alternatives.
“We saved a lot of money doing it,” he said. “We are getting more and more pressed for space. We can sell that building and we can be ahead of the game.”
Pearson also asked Williamson about council’s decision to renovate portions of the Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall when the Town gives it a lifespan of just five more years.
Council approved the installation of a fire alarm, in partnership with Beneath the Arch Concert Series, and paving the walkway. Money spent to roof repairs was covered by insurance.
“Beneath the Arch doesn’t have an alternative and we don’t have an alternative,” Williamson said. “We are doing the things we should do to keep it going for three to four years.”
Incumbent Dona Fluter said residents asked what her plans are if elected another term. She said she wants to focus on local projects including a pathway system, downtown revitalization and diverse housing.
Fluter said she encouraged voters to ask hard questions of the candidates as they visit their homes and at the next forum.
“I hope people take the time to really investigate information,” she said. “Some statements are being made with no facts behind them whatsoever so that’s concerning. Some of those comments are almost insulting to our staff and administration. Staff and administration are the doers here and you have to be respectful of the limitations they have in numbers and time.”
Incumbent Sandy Rishaug said council received little opposition from the public the past couple of years and she sees that as a sign council is moving in the right direction.
Rishaug said the current councillors, all of who are running again, worked well together.
“There was no infighting,” she said. “You can’t get anywhere that way.”
Completing the projects council has on the go, including downtown revitalization, a new community hall and construction of a new baseball diamond and campground, can’t occur overnight, Rishaug said.
“There is so much process to go through and you have limited resources,” she said. “We have our taxes, which some people think they can lower. If you are going to lower the taxes you are going to get less done.”
Rishaug said the only way to make these projects happen faster is to have more money. That would mean raising taxes.
Pearson said her strategy was to ask direct questions and get a feel for the candidates by how they spoke.
“I feel like there was some beating around the bushes a little bit,” she said. “I really enjoy Turner Valley and I want to see it progress. There are parts of Turner Valley I would like to see change and it sounds like there are a lot of things in the works.”
Pearson said the forum was crucial to making an informed decision.
“This has been incredibly helpful,” she said. “I totally know who I am voting for.”
Turner Valley resident Dean Thompson visited each candidate throughout the evening, collecting brochures and information along the way.
“I decided I should be informed before I vote,” he said. “I wanted to learn about plans for downtown development and the water treatment plant. I moved here four yeas ago on a temporary basis. Now I want to stay and help shape the future.”