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COMMENTARY · 18th November 2011
Walter McFarlane
The Election is almost upon us. The Forum questions are all up on the website and I have 31 pages of answers, single spaced on my laptop. I encourage people to read them.

Right from the gate, the problem with the Council Car was evident. There was no problem with vehicle itself, it was the nut behind the wheel.

Council candidates focused on teamwork and their past accomplishments as a unit or a willingness to listen and to work as a team for the good of the community. Even though they had different opinions on a few of the issues, a Council who is always in agreement is just as bad as a Council who is always at each otherís throats. These differences will spark good debate in the years to come.

All twelve showed they are excellent candidates for a position on Council and the community has a tough choice ahead of it. The questions themselves focused around Enbridge, economic development and what Council could do for the community.

Before I go any further, here is the role of the Mayor, as defined by the community charter:

Responsibilities of mayor
116 (1) The mayor is the head and chief executive officer of the municipality.
(2) In addition to the mayor's responsibilities as a member of council, the mayor has the following responsibilities:
(a) to provide leadership to the council, including by recommending bylaws, resolutions and other measures that, in the mayor's opinion, may assist the peace, order and good government of the municipality;
(b) to communicate information to the council;
(c) to preside at council meetings when in attendance;
(d) to provide, on behalf of the council, general direction to municipal officers respecting implementation of municipal policies, programs and other directions of the council;
(e) to establish standing committees in accordance with section 141;
(f) to suspend municipal officers and employees in accordance with section 151;
(g) to reflect the will of council and to carry out other duties on behalf of the council;
(h) to carry out other duties assigned under this or any other Act.

Learn more about the running of the community here.

Leadership is important as the Mayor is the leader of the Councillors, although Iíve learned from watching the meetings and in reading the charter, the Councillors are much more important then the Mayor as the Mayor cannot act without their direction.

A majority of the questions for the Mayor were personal questions of what they have done and what they will do. Only one question, focused on their ability to work as team.

Walking out of the forum, it appeared Jim Thom was a clear winner. He provided good answers to several questions. One which stands out was about the role of the Mayor. The other two gave opinions contrary to the Community Charter.

Thom also did well on an issue which hits me pretty close, the issue of hiring and shopping local. One part of it was he said he hires local workers when he does work on his shops. That alone earns my respect. He provided some good answers about needing to make sure our police and ambulance service are up to snuff.

The incumbent, Joanne Monaghan also provide answers to many of the questions. She works with government officials but this is the role of the Mayor. Of course, she holds the advantage there being the incumbent.

However, her answers contradict the facts in a few areas. One example is there was no one but her to take the position of economic development. If this is so, why is Rose Klukas listed as economic development and why is Monaghan taking over her job?

There is another place where Monaghanís conversation with an individual from the community did not mirror a conversation I had with the same individual.

Finally, it appears she did some well planned attacks during the forum. Her supporters were asking questions of one candidate. He answers the question and then she gets to jump in and correct him. No one would realize this except the person asking the question was wearing a Joanne Monaghan Pin. In this reporterís opinion, this is as bad as mudslinging.

Halyk, at a first glance, did not do well. Questions were worded against him, he was booed twice, he stumbled through his speeches, contradicted himself at least once, and, as said in the last paragraph, some of his answers were upstaged. At second glance, he had a lot better things to say.

He was able to provide some good answers. One of his best was the answer on the riverbank camping, which answered several of the prior questions he had flubbed. He had researched the owners and had met with government concerning a piece of Crown land which Council could have used to develop a camp ground.

While he was booed, one of the answers he was booed for was questioning the Shames Spending. One of the Councillor Candidates brought the same answer up at one point and he was not booed. This appears to be a simple matter of attacking the person, not the idea.

From what Iím told, the race for mayor will be a difficult choice for different reasons. One person called it: Best of the worst.

The election is on the 19th, do not forget to vote.