INNISFAIL – The town’s two contenders for mayor for the 2021 general municipal election will pitch their platforms at a separate mayoral forum in September.
Heather Taylor, spokesperson of the citizens’ committee organizing the event, confirmed last week that both Glen Carritt, a former town councillor and Jean Barclay, who is a current member of council, have both agreed to attend the free public event on Sept. 22.
If any other citizen officially declares themselves as a mayoral candidate before Sept. 22 he or she will also be invited to participate, said Taylor. The forum will be held at the Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion, starting at 7 p.m.
“I had a few inquiries from people who had been to forums before and felt that maybe, and depending on how many candidates there are, that they don’t get enough time to speak, and the (public) doesn’t get enough time to ask questions,” said Taylor.
Taylor, a former town councillor who has lived in Innisfail for the past 40 years, said she was not aware of any previous separate mayoral forum in town for past municipal elections. “None that I am aware of, no,” she said.
The event will be hosted live. Taylor said there are no current plans to live stream the event in the event of a resurgence of positive COVID-19 cases.
“We don’t know if we are going back into that kind of a mess or not,” said Taylor. “For now, no.”
She said Kerry Towle, a former MLA for the provincial Innisfail-Sylvan Lake riding, will be the moderator. She said Towle was chosen because Rod Bradshaw, a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Innisfail who typically moderates municipal all-candidate forums sponsored by the Innisfail & District Chamber of Commerce, will likely do so again.
“I feel privileged and very lucky to be asked to do this. I agreed to do this because I believe 100 per cent in democracy, and I think a good forum where candidates answer to the folks they want to represent is important,” said Towle.
“I think it’s important to have a fair, open and transparent forum that everybody has a voice in, and I was thrilled that they thought I could play a role in it.”
Towle also said it was important for the municipality to have a separate mayoral forum for local residents.
“I think the role of mayor is a really important piece of the functionality of council,” said Towle. “The mayor should be a leader, be able to be a consensus maker, is able to look at things a little bit differently, and maybe a little bit more broadly.
“They just have a different role than a councillor, which are both very important but they are different. I think those voices outside of an all-candidates meeting and what they are going to do to be a leader is very important.”
As for the candidates about this unique opportunity for an Innisfail mayoral candidate, Carritt said he’s looking forward to the forum.
“If people want accountability and someone who truly stands up for small business then I look forward to sharing this with our community and surrounding area,” said Carritt. “Public forums are a great tool to aid in picking a candidate.”
Barclay also noted the Sept. 22 mayoral forum could be a first for Innisfail. She added there will be plenty of issues for everyone to digest.
“We need to be able put our visions out for Innisfail in front of our residents, and debate maybe different visions that we see for the community,” said Barclay.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity, with the mayoral forum giving us the opportunity to have a little bit more time to talk about things that are very important.”