Estimates say about 400 people attended the all candidates forum hosted by the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce. Typical questions about taxes and snow removal were brought up, there was also a focus on the downtown rehabilitation process and ensuring an inclusive Grande Prairie.
GPRC Political Scientist Dawn Moffat-McMaster said that she was impressed with the quality of some of the questions that were asked particularly on the topic of annexation
“That’s been a hot topic right, and you could see that reflected in how some of the different candidates brought it up in regards to other questions as well. This is one of the ways we need to address this talking about annexation and amalgamation and cooperation.”
She also says that these types of forums tend to favour incumbent candidates who have already experienced public questions and answer sessions. She says they also have the benefit of being familiar with language used and day to day processes already in place. While hesitant to make many predictions, Moffat-McMaster expects to see incumbent candidates do well in this election.
Due to the large number of candidates in this election questions were taken at the door and three councilor candidates were randomly selected to answer. Any questions that were directed at the mayoral candidates were answered by all three. The set up received mixed reviews from resident Steve Hickson who had snow removal on his mind.
“I would have liked to have everybody answer, but they had four people answer. They were on different sides of it so that changed my vote.”
Another topic that many people came to ask questions about was the on-going opioid crisis and the city’s plan to address it, HIV North’s Melissa Buyers was one of them.
“I think Bill Given’s response towards that, just kind of bringing in this collaborative approach and having key stake holders come together at the table, I’m really happy to hear that if elected he’s going to move forward with the progress we have made on that.”
The variety of topics and the mix of residents that attended allowed Emily Tarney to learn more about what was on the minds of her neighbours and fellow Grande Prairie Residents.
“I was a little surprised by some of the issues that seemed to be really pressing for people. Not offended, I think it was just really interesting too to see different perspectives from the city, because we are a diverse city.”
This was the only forum planned for this election cycle. The candidates will be out in full force door knocking and meeting with residents ahead of the October 16th election.