Youth grill alderman candidates with tough questions
With a colourful wall mural behind them, which showcased local youth’s artistic skills, most of the municipal candidates showed up to face the tough questions. at the Airdrie Youth Forum on Oct. 8
While the turnout of the forum was less than excepted, it didn’t stop the dozen or so people from putting the candidates in the hot seat with issues that affect youth in Airdrie at the Boys and Girls Club in the Ron Ebbesen Arena.
Robbie White, community developer for youth at City of Airdrie kicked off the night, welcoming everyone, and introducing the moderator for the discussion – 16-year-old Donivan Ryan – who kept strict watch on the candidate’s one-minute time limit throughout the night.
All candidates were present except Allan Hunter.
While it takes courage to face the questions, it takes more to stand up and ask candidates questions, but that’s exactly what eight-year-old Kate Kucharski did.
“How many City council meetings have you been to in the past year?” she asked from behind the microphone.
The answers varied from “all of them,” to “none”.
“I haven’t missed any that weren’t cancelled (in three years),” incumbent-hopeful Ron Chapman, said.
On the other end of the spectrum, Jane Anderson – one fourth of the Airdrie Team United said “(she) hasn’t been to any in the past couple of years,” but went on to say that a “few years ago” she attended a few.
Youth continued asking hard hitting questions, keeping candidates on their feet.
“With respect to the new Anti-Bullying bylaw, does it include LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender)?” Jonathon Barrett, 17, asked candidates.
“We all live in this world,” Darrell Belyk, who explained that he knows the effects of bullying first hand. “There should be no prejudice.”
Ken Maines surprised the crowd with a different stance on the issue.
“The bullying bylaw does nothing, bullies are bullies,” he said passionately at the youth forum.
“(…) You should have the self-esteem to fend off bullies. There will always be bullying, everywhere.”
Brandon Harman, 17, asked council hopefuls what their biggest priority was for Airdrie, and the questions revealed a variety of answers from candidates.
“I think affordability would be mine,” Rob Jamieson said. “I don’t want to raise taxes but we have to be careful with how we spend our money.”
Attracting more businesses and keeping the City financially stable were among the answers discussed. The possibility of an indoor playground was also discussed by Jane Anderson.
“I think transportation would be my No.1 priority,” Mohammed Benin said. “I was born in Ghana, Africa, and without transportation I wouldn’t be here in Canada.”
Sustain growth was Kelly Hegg’s first priority, according to the veteran councillor, and “to promote the vital wellness for everyone in (Airdrie)” was part of Richard Herdman’s mission statement.
Fourteen-year-old Airdrie resident, Morgan Strand, stepped up the microphone to ask councillors their opinion of youth programs currently operating in the city and if the city is coping with youth disabilities.
“Council needs to support youth programs,” Candice Kolson said. “(They) have never been adequate.”
Most of the candidates praised The Airdrie Boys and Girls Club – which hosted the event – and their programs and efforts to initiate and sustain youth programs.
“There are numerous funding programs, it’s a hard decision to look at each organization looking for funding,” Chapman said. “We’d love to hear what (programs) you want to do.”