By COLLIN GALLANT September 24, 2021.
Thursday’s first municipal election forum was meant to be a knowledge exercise, and they also packed three big questions in two hours with about half of a large field of council candidates and five mayoral candidates.
The in-person event at the Cypress Pavilion was also broadcast online to 1,100 viewers and was sponsored by the Medicine Hat Retirement Villa.
Rick Porter moderated the event, which saw contestants embark on a series of two-minute introductions, then provide one-minute responses on the COVID response, economic development and controversy on the safe consumption site .
“These are big topics for a minute,” remarked council candidate Cassi Hider.
The night began with a minute’s silence for Councilor Jim Turner, who died this week at the start of the official four-week campaign.
Outgoing mayoral candidate Ted Clugston referred to Turner’s memory in his introduction, saying the pair would be concerned that voters “change course with left-wing advice.”
“I’ve made some tough judgments, but hopefully you’ll judge over 14 years of decision making, not just the one you didn’t like,” said Clugston, who is running for a third term against four challengers.
Speaking first, Linnsie Clark called the Hat a “unique and pioneering community”.
“We have to recognize it,” she said. “We have an opportunity to change our future in this election.”
Mayoral candidate Alan Rose was strongest on economic issues in the second round, saying the city’s major employers should be approached about complementary industries to focus the city’s attraction efforts.
“So far all we’ve done is sell land at a discount and it’s not business development,” said Rose, who strongly criticized Invest Medicine Hat’s efforts, adding that he was not convinced of the development of hydrogen and the new lobbying for the Wildhorse. border upgrades and Air Canada service are required.
Mayoral candidate Tony Leahy reiterated his position that the city should take the lead on social issues such as mental health and addiction, and create city services to generate economic momentum.
“No business in the world is going to move to a city that has a record suicide rate, we have to get real,” he said.
As the pandemic emerges, “we’re going to need mental health supports like you wouldn’t believe,” council candidate Kelly Allard said. She advocated that the city follow Calgary’s lead and put in place a system of vaccine requirements for businesses to address provincial gaps.
Incumbent Robert Dumanowski, a strong supporter of the 2020 city mask bylaw, said he will support a uniform requirement that business owners can understand and implement.
“We don’t need to postpone this anymore, our hospital is in crisis,” candidate Paul Hemsing said. “The current council must start in this direction immediately. ”
Stephen Campbell, spokesperson for the “We Choose Freedom” movement which opposed the hat mask regulation, rejected the idea.
“I believe in freedom of choice and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” he said. “I would never support this settlement… I ask for calm.
Brian Varga, a two-term board member and owner of a landscaping company, said business is changing and the board has charted a course.
“Over four years, I hope to move forward on some of the goals and priorities that we have set and we have high priorities,” he said.
Brad Gruzsie, who worked in the city’s IT department before being laid off last spring, said he knew how to fix problems and save money,
He supports public services and is against the Waterfront project “as it stands,” he said.
Hider, Ronald McDonald House manager, said “we need to create great jobs in our city… this great community and grants to our existing business.”
Marco Jansen, a business owner, said the council should give in to owners’ views on the vaccine issue.
It also supported community recreation centers on multiplexes “in the most remote corners”.
“It can be good for tourism, but do you want to visit a city that nobody wants to live in? ” He asked.
Shila Sharps, who owns a human resources business, wants to focus on reinvesting downtown. The controversial issue of a supervised consumption site should be reconsidered, she said.
“Right now what we have are unsupervised injections everywhere,” she said.
Others, especially Leahy, said a mobile service paired with social workers and recovery support was the best option.
Alison Van Dyke, a longtime public services and health care activist in her first political campaign called herself “known quantity” in a busy race.
“I am running a campaign for social prosperity… a community that serves everyone in the community for everyone to prosper,” she said, supporting reinvestment in the power plant. “We have an asset that no other city in Alberta has.
Brian Webster, a former deputy fire chief, said he brings fiscal responsibility to the race, supports community recreation centers, has concerns about the downtown plan and opposes any sale of utilities .
Justin Wright said “Medicine Hat can be the Jewel of the Prairies and the Jewel of Alberta, if we protect our edge,” he said.
Immanuel Moritz is a retired construction company owner and former member of the town planning committee.
“The council will have to look at the redevelopment of downtown ‘the waterfront district’ and find this opportunity,” he said.
Nicholas Martin, an energy engineer, said he was pushing for a university in the hat to create stable jobs, support employers and support population growth.
“When the kids get older, they go elsewhere (to school), and the city is lost forever,” he said.
Mike Starner, in the mayoral race, said opportunities and facilities for young people are his priority.
Roger McClary, a former oilfield technologist, said the collapse of the oil sector can be offset by green energy opportunities.
“These are long term projects, and the government can sometimes focus on the short term,” he said.
Candidate Mark Asham is a salesman and pastor who supports public services and is said to focus on population and economic growth, he said.
The video presentation of the event was viewed by approximately 1,100 people on Facebook and http://www.pimedianetwork.com. Candidate profiles appear on the News website, and more are added as they become available. A special News electoral guide will also be available in early October.