As election forums go, Tuesday night’s get together was as congenial, polite and downright boring as a forum can be.
People do attend forums to get to know candidates a little better. They are a good idea. But let’s face it, people also attend these events in the hopes of seeing fireworks. There’s a general wish that someone will stand up at the microphone and ask a zinger of a question that causes a candidate to lose all facial color.
There were no zingers Tuesday, none of the candidates up for election made huge mistakes and the crowd was just as polite as pie. Oh well; better luck next time.
The chamber of commerce and resident’s association co-hosted the event for the first time and they did a reasonable job for beginners. It was strange to walk into the community centre and see that candidates would face the crowd without the aid of tables in front of them. No doubt some of the candidates felt rather exposed just sitting there.
A new format for questions was tried out and it caused some apparent disappoint with some people in attendance. In past forums, candidates were allowed to answer any question, regardless which candidate was asked. That caused problems, since there could be a dozen or so candidates each taking a minute to answer, making the forum a long, drawn out affair.
Tuesday, the idea was that if a general question was asked, the moderator would pick a name out of a box and have only that candidate answer. The upside is that more questions could be asked and answers given in a shorter period of time. The downside is that the crowd didn’t get to hear how each person stood on any issue.
In any event, right from the first question, the rule was bent in favour of allowing others to respond. It wasn’t the greatest setup, but neither is having every candidate respond to every question.
It’s tough to pick winners and losers in a forum. It helps if someone trips over their tongue or makes a fatal verbal mistake. That didn’t happen Tuesday. Generally, the candidates performed well.
If there was a winner at the Peachland All Candidates Forum, it was Moyra Baxter. After 15 years as Peachland’s school board representative, Baxter is polished, confident and very knowledgeable. Rival Lindsay Bell offered little new to counter Baxter’s record and glossed over what she would do on the school board.
Karin Cruikshank came out with a confused message, talking about how Japanese seniors treat that country’s youth and the importance of fundraising to help special needs kids.
Two are vying for mayor of Peachland. Keith Fielding focused on his record during his one term as mayor and Lee Sawchuk focused on what he would do differently. Neither tossed shots across the bow of the other.
Incumbent and hopeful councillor candidates all did commendable jobs during the forum. And then there was Ernie.
Ernie Hurd was elected to council in 2008 and quit in 2010 after a referendum on a curling rink. Hurd didn’t like the result. First he took a leave of absence, then he quit and as a parting shot to the community he was supposed to be serving, he wrote a scathing letter to the editor that slammed anyone who voted against the curling rink he so badly wanted. Hurd’s decision cost taxpayers $10,000 in a by-election.
Hurd is back and that did stir things up a bit at the forum. He was asked about his quitting. Hurd responded that he would not apologize for quitting but he does apologize for the letter.
It was apparent when Hurd resigned that his reasoning was that he was very upset about the referendum result. Later, he tried to smooth things over by claiming that he had a lot of things going on his life at the time. Tuesday night, Hurd came full circle. He mentioned nothing about life happenings and it was apparent once again that Hurd quit in 2010 over the referendum.
C’est la vie. Voters will decide on November 19 if Hurd is worthy of a second chance.
Whether the all candidates forum was informative enough for the 300 attendees to help make decisions about who to vote for remains to be seen. Only so many questions can be asked in the time allotted and the crowd was not tripping over themselves to ask them.