Chamber of Commerce to host all candidates forum
Airdrie residents will be given the opportunity to voice their questions to aldermanic hopefuls and Rocky View Schools trustees on Oct. 15 at the all-candidates forum, hosted by the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce.
The forum will take place at Bert Church Theatre from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The first hour of the evening will be dedicated to Rocky View Schools trustee candidates and at 8 p.m. alderman candidates will take the stage to field questions from the public.
Each candidate will be given two minutes to present their platform before the floor is opened up to questions from the audience.
Members of the audience may either ask a 15-second question or have a written question asked by forum moderator and owner of Here’s the Scoop, Al Jones.
Questions will alternate between written and those from members of the audience and must be addressed to all candidates.
The names of four candidates will be drawn at random to give a one-minute response.
This format aligns with that of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, according to Airdrie Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lorna Hunt.
“We want to make sure that we’re all running similar forums (across the province),” said Hunt. “It’s in our mandate to ensure that all questions presented are relevant to Airdrie and are of local significance.”
The forum is open for all to attend, but only residents of Airdrie will be allowed to ask questions and will be required to provide photo identification with proof of address.
Alderman Ron Chapman participated in the Airdrie all candidates forum in 2010 and is a supporter of the format, though he feels some adjustment could be made to the number of candidates who are answering each question.
“I’m not sure how it will work with four candidates answering, I think three would work better because it goes evenly into 15 (candidates), with four you could have people answering more questions than others,” said Chapman. “It’s definitely better to have it limited to four per question though because if you had 15 people responding to the same question, by the time you got to the end, everyone would just be saying ‘ditto.’”
Alderman Allan Hunter is also a supporter of the format and says it is a way to make clear what the issues are in the city as well as define which candidates are genuine.
“This forum really provides a snapshot as to what the issues are right now,” said Hunter.
“This is a chance for candidates to see what the people in the city are talking about and it gives the residents an opportunity to take an active role in the election process. This will show who is for real and who is just saying the right things at the right moments.”
Alderman hopeful Darrell Belyk is participating in his second forum, as he ran unsuccessfully for council in 2010.
He says he enjoys the challenge the forum presents in terms of interacting with people in a number of ways.
“Those who attend will not only get a chance to see how the candidates are able to think on their feet, but how they can interact in a one-on-one situation after the forum as well,” said Belyk.
“They (residents) will really get a good idea as to how well the candidates interact with constituents.”
Candidates will be expected to act in a professional manner and to keep all responses within their one-minute time limit, according to organizers.
“This is a great way to get all the candidates together in one place,” said Chapman. “A forum is better than a debate in municipal politics because we should all be on the same team.”
Seating at Bert Church Theatre is limited to 377 people, doors will open at 6:15 p.m. and seating will be on a first-come-first serve basis.
Close to 600 residents attended the all candidates forum in 2010, with nearly 400 in the theatre and another 200 in the school’s cafeteria. Seating this year will be capped at 377 in the theatre, with space for another 200 in the cafeteria.