Town of Stettler candidates speak out at election forum

Being questioned by residents – Candidates running for mayoral and councilor positions in next Monday’s municipal elections were grilled during the public forum at the Stettler Recreation Centre on Thursday

More space for Stettler Public Library, recycling, and bylaw enforcement were the main issues election candidates for the Town of Stettler faced during an all-candidates’ forum Oct. 7.

About 110 citizens crowded the Conference Room at Stettler Recreation Centre to hear and questions the candidates.

Mayoral candidates Will Brown and incumbent mayor Dick Richards were the first to present their platforms followed by councilor candidates, including newcomers Malcolm Fischer, Boyd Jackson, Len Kostenuk, Peter Simons, Wayne Tebbe, Dave Thiessen and Steven Wildeboer and incumbents Darcy Bachman, Al Campbell, Dave Garbutt and Leona Thorogood.

With the library cramped out of its space at Stettler Recreation Centre and plans to expand, all candidates agreed that more space is required.

“It should be on the books,” said Jackson, who represents seniors on a committee to review the future needs of the recreation centre.

Richards, Garbutt, and Bachman agreed with Jackson that the project would require ample funding before work begins.

While council approved a recommendation by Heartland Beautification Committee to install a pergola at the junction of highways 12 and 56, much of the crowd applauded when a resident said it was a waste of money.

Most new candidates stated that council should not simply approve committee recommendations while some incumbents said that recommendations from the beautification committee are usually supported because committee members usually represent and reflect the wishes of the community.

Responding to other questions, most candidates agreed a locally-hired bylaw control officer would not be in an ideal situation to carry out his/her duties as a local person might have to suffer a negative image.

To ensure that locally gathered trash are actually recycled, most candidates agreed that new council could take a trip to the recycling plant, although Garbutt said administration, not council, should have authority to ensure contracts are followed properly.

All candidates highlighted their platforms in their opening speeches and closing statements.

These statements are summarized as follows:

Brown – “I want to make this community safer, urge people to shop locally, create more jobs and be more fiscally responsible.”

Richards – “During tough economic times, this election is about experience. I am proud to keep taxes affordable. My commitment to this community speaks for itself.”

Bachman – “Experience will take you a long way and I have 14 years experience on councils in Stettler and in Bashaw where I also served as mayor.”

Campbell – “We want to add a seniors ‘ social facility – that’s something we need.”

Fischer – “I want to protect the spending of taxpayers’ money. We have to look after all the good things we have in our community.”

Garbutt – “I firmly believe that an effective council will be made up of councillors who are open-minded, approachable and willing to hear and act upon the wishes and concerns of Stettler’s citizens.”

Jackson – “More must be done to attract more business and the town and county (of Stettler) must continue to work together.”

Kostenuk – Annexation of land (from the County of Stettler) is a good opportunity to develop and grow. We need to look for new ways to save money.”

Simons – “I want to attract more families to have a continued thriving population. I want to make it easier to attract more business here and develop the annexed land in an efficient way.”

Tebbe – “I want to have more security and safety and bring more people, business and money into town.”

Thiessen – “I want to see more small business, work with the county (of Stettler) and I am open to new ideas.”

Thorogood – “We want to become the economic hub of east central Alberta and focus on collaboration, balance and to be proactive.”

Wildeboer – “A new person on council is an advantage because I would be unbiased, to hear all the views to make a wise decision. I believe in strong families, building community, integrity in government and more small business to Stettler.”

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