By: Korie Marshall
McBride and Area Chamber of Commerce hosted an All Candidates forum in McBride on Wednesday, Oct. 29th, at the Roundhouse Theatre.
The first hour saw the seven candidates for McBride Council on stage. Ralph Bezanson, Bob Callaghan, Allan Frederick, Sharon Reichert, Irene Rejman, Rick Thompson and Edee Tracy each had a few minutes to provide opening remarks, followed by 10 written questions, vetted by a group of three people backstage, and read by moderator Harold Edwards. A variety of questions were directed to specific candidates, but three questions to all candidates focused on funding and the potential library/museum expansion: where could money be spent outside of the library/museum; what are your plans to meet the library/museum’s need for expansion; and how will spending money on a library/museum help a community that needs money.
The written questions were followed by four verbal questions from residents, which were expected to be directed to specific candidates. One question was from Al Birnie, former chair of the library board, to Irene Rejman, asking how she could fail to understand that no money was requested from the Village in the SHOOP report. After a few moments, Rejman said she had no response. There were also questions about maintenance of the underpass under the CN rail, and how to get youth involved in the community.
Candidates for Council then had a few minutes to offer closing remarks, followed by an intermission. The girls’ volleyball team offered the concession as a fundraiser.
The second half of the forum saw candidates for McBride Mayor, Mike Frazier and Loranne Martin, and Area H candidates for Regional District Dannielle Alan and Ken Starchuck on stage. Bryan Monroe, candidate for Area H was not able to attend as he was in hospital, but his introductory remarks were read to the full house in the school theatre.
The candidates opening statements were followed by over a dozen questions, starting with written questions. A few verbal questions followed, interspersed with more written questions if there was no one at the microphone to ask a question. Again, a number of questions centered on the library/museum. The first question was to Mayor Candidates Frazier and Martin, asking if they were prepared to raise taxes for the library/museum. Frazier responded there are better ways than raising taxes, and that he is not against the library expansion, but he doesn’t like it at 521 Main St because he believes the downtown corridor should be reserved for commercial activity. Martin responded that it was presumptuous to assume moving the library/museum would mean raising taxes, and that the group had come to Council with more of a plan than EcoTech ever had, and it would not have meant more taxes. She said “the library/museum project is controversial because of two men; that is it.”
Other questions to the Mayor candidates were on issues of perceived secrecy, lack of cooperation and “stonewalling” from Council, and how the candidates might resolve that, and a number of questions around the Village’s just-announced purchase of the old Forestry building. There were also questions about Martin’s previous removal from the board of the McBride Community Forest, and questions about dealing with the deer in the village. Questions were followed by a few minutes for each candidate to provide closing remarks.
Trustee candidates were not able to make the forum in McBride, as a Trustee forum was scheduled in Prince George on the same night. A meet and greet for the Trustee candidates was scheduled for Wednesday evening, Nov. 5th, from 5-7pm, downstairs at the Gigglin’ Grizzly.