It was the first time Enderby candidates squared off in a public forum since announcing their candidacy.
Tuesday night, at the Senior Centre on George Street, was the Enderby all candidates forum. It came just in time for the start of advance voting Wednesday, Oct. 10. At the beginning of the night, before candidates took to the stage, voters wrote down questions. Each candidate was given about one minute to issue a response.
The night began with the two individuals running for the position of school trustee: Fred Busch and Quentin Bruns. Both candidates have worked in the school system and have worked with the youth of the city for many years, Busch as a teacher for about 20 years and Bruns through youth organizations and through his own children and their athletic teams.
One of the main concerns of the night came towards the end — what would the candidates do about overcrowding in local schools due to community growth and what would they do to address the immediate need for space in schools, which is often a deterrent to young families? Both agreed this was an ongoing issue.
“School boards in themselves don’t build schools so you have to build provincial funding so you would have work with members of the local legislature and convince him and have him be your ally in either building another school or increasing the size of your school,” said Busch. “It’s not something that can be done overnight In extreme cases you may have to go to some sort of shift so older kids come in at 1 p.m. and younger kids come from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.”
Bruns, who was once a school trustee but didn’t seek re-election agreed.
“I think it reflects some of the poor planning that our school district we had in the past in closing down Ashton Creek. As far as what to do in the immediate timeframe and not wanting to put up portables is something we’d have to discuss in the community,” he said. “One interesting thing is that the Splatsin First Nation is planning on building a new school and perhaps if we can have discussions with them about incorporating the space needed is something we can use to alleviate some of our concerns about overcrowding.”
Next came the face-off between Denis Delisle and Lori Heins for Regional Director Area F. They were asked many questions about varying topics from solutions to public transportation problems to the sustainability of the Shuswap River to economic development. One common theme throughout this section of the forum seemed to relate back to active communication.
“A local government at it’s best should be communicating with its constituents,” said Delisle when asked how he would best bridge the gap between businesses and the community. “The best way to foster positive and productive communication would be to get the information and pass it on to the residents, ask the hard questions and try to work with businesses and foster an understanding between the residents and companies is important and try to find common ground.
“At the end of the day, it all boils down to communication. You can’t make everybody happy but you can listen and at the end of the day, people just want to know they’ve been listened to and get answers back. At the end of the day it’s whether you can get answers for people with the questions,” said Heins. “I’m not here saying vote for me. I’m saying vote for somebody so we can have the future that you guys want for your community and if that ends up being me then, that’s great and I’ll do everything I can to help everybody.”
The incumbent Enderby council — which includes Shawn Shishido, Brian Schreiner, Roxanne Davyduke, Tundra Baird, Brad Case and Raquel Knust — came to the forum as a unified front. They argued the need to stay unified to continue their work in the community.
“These past four years have been a fantastic four years and I can tell you that it’s all about teamwork. These are some of the most passionate and dedicated people and they love this community as much as I do,” said Shishido. “If you want to know how well this team functions, all you have to do is look around Enderby and see all the improvement.”
“I have lifelong roots here and I want to continue to give back to Enderby and am committed to the citizens of Enderby,” said Davyduke. “Our council has brought many different ideas to the table to discuss and debate, ensuring it is well thought out in the best interest of our city.”
“We did a lot of improvements this past year on roads and we initiated safe communities,” said Schreiner before detailing the many strides the current council has made in the community over the past four years.
Baird focused on advocating for the aging population while accommodating young families moving to the area.
“There is so much left to be done in our little city,” she said. “Infrastructure upgrades and invest in our parks and recreational facilities, which are aging, to say the least.”
“A sound city council makes all the difference in the community,” said Case. “Raising taxes is simply not a viable option for the community so council has been investigating other revenue streams.”
Knust likened the current council to a hockey team. She said each individual on current council pulled their weight over the past term and that although they all have different positions, opinions and roles, together they made a team.
“The current council presents as a team but that being said, I can assure you that it’s by respect that we unite not necessarily by opinion. Many times we’ve had our disagreements and we have debated and it’s because of our respect of one another that it allows your voice to be heard at the table. I can honestly say we’ve had a great team these past four years. Each individual brought a different perspective to the table,” she said. “Choose your team wisely.”
The current council is challenged by only one individual: Darren Robinson who feels change is important to evolution; that fresh perspectives on challenging issues are essential.
“Fresh perspectives are integral to our progress,” said Robinson, who also said he’s visited over 600 homes in the community to find out what people think is working and what needs to change in Enderby.
“The bulk of my campaign is and will continue to be one-on-one conversations. I have listened and understand where many of you think we need to get to as a community. I noted your ideas and concerns and a couple of common thoughts have emerged: one has been that a changeup in council to at least some degree would likely prove beneficial and that there’s too much conformity amongst our leadership.”
With the politics well underway, the night concluded with mayoral candidates Greg McCune (incumbent) and challenger Herman Halvorson.
The candidates were asked a total of 12 questions from the community from managing the needs of medical professionals in the area to barriers of industrial development to how to regulate the retailers and concerns relating to cannabis. They agreed on almost every question brought to their attention, providing similar solutions such as a need for better transportation by bringing Uber or Lyft to the community and the need for attracting medical professionals to the area including doctors, chiropractors and massage therapists.
The main aspect that candidates disagreed on was the question of how to address low income and senior housing. Halvorson argued that this is a federal matter that is being talked about extensively and is a place that tax dollars are going towards while McCune argued that, though it is a provincial and federal issue, they know the community best and can work aggressively to tackle the issue based on the community needs.
One thing all candidates had in common was their passion for the community and urged everyone to take the time to vote on election day. Advanced voting began Wednesday, Oct. 10 with election day set for next Saturday, Oct. 20.
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