It’s been said in this space before, but the most influential level of government is the municipality in which you work and live.
This is why events like the Mayoral and Councilor Town Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 3 is the perfect opportunity for ratepayers to educate themselves on both the issues affecting the City of Brandon through the next four years and whom you believe should be placed in positions of influence to deal with these items.
The Town Hall, scheduled to take place at St. Matthew’s Cathedral on 13th Street at 6 p.m., will host all nineteen candidates running for mayor and council in the Oct. 24 Brandon municipal election. Sixteen of the candidates will pair off and square off in their respective wards, while three will be in attendance despite acquiring their seat by acclamation following the lack of competition within their ward at the close of nominations on Sept. 18.
Nevertheless, those running in the election are preparing to respond to a pre-set list of priorities set out by the Brandon Votes #thisismycommunity campaign. These issues include addiction, bigotry, crime, mental health and poverty. The candidates were given 15 questions related to the priorities. Their responses will be presented at the Town Hall.
One of the questioners will be Kim Longstreet, who has been voicing her concerns about methamphetamine usage in the city for more than a year. Since then, she has been speaking with representatives from all levels of government, hosted a forum on the issue last fall, wrote a community impact statement and established the RJ Streetz Foundation; an organization created to raise funds for educational and awareness initiatives regarding the issue in the city.
In so doing, she has engaged her community like many residents should; with feet on the road, eyes on the issue and ears for ideas.
Hence, it is important for the Mayoral and Councilor Town Hall to be well attended. Although the format of the meeting is not necessarily open to the floor (the five priorities have focused the meeting’s content), it is extremely important that voters be informed before they cast their ballot.
In smaller communities – towns, villages, rural municipalities – council races tend to lean towards popularity contests. In a city of 50,000 people, however, it is important that a candidate’s position on relevant issues plays a larger role than their personalities, regardless of how pleasant a particular individual may be.
After going months without enough candidates to provide races in a majority of wards, last minute entries have provided legitimate races in eight of the 10 municipal wards; Assiniboine, Rosser, Victoria, University, Meadows-Waverly, South Centre, Richmond and Riverview. It is, therefore, imperative that the property owners within these wards assess who will best represent their principles on issues laid out by Brandon Votes.
That should not stop one from challenging their candidates on a one-on-one basis, though. Should you have a specific issue that you deem of public interest, it is important to approach the pair of candidates you will be voting for and determine where they stand.
It’s obvious not everyone can sit on a council seat, but everyone can ensure they are represented at City Hall by whom they determine to be the most qualified person based on their own set of morals, values and ethics.
Plus, the potential councilors should learn quickly that they are being watched carefully.
If you have any room in your schedule at all, mark the Town Hall on your calendar. You may not get a better chance to assess the city’s incoming leadership.