On August 23 the five candidates for the 2012 Town of Golden Municipal Byelection took part in an all candidates meeting hosted by the Kicking Horse Country Chamber of Commerce.
The evening started out with each candidate answering a three-part question about what they felt was the role of a councillor, to explain why they were running, and what value they would bring to the position.
Andrew Commons said a councillor should, “Represent you, the people of Golden. Duty to keep an open mind and listen to all points of view.” He said he would make decisions that benefit the community as a whole and be a good steward of town assets.
Keith Hern said a councillor should represent the constituents to the best of their ability while making the best decisions based on best information available.
He added, “Most importantly it is the council’s role to ensure that your property tax dollars are spent wisely, effectively and to the maximum benefit to all residents.”
Lori Baxendale spoke third and said, “I chose to run for council because I love Golden.”
She also said that council represents the people of the community on different levels. She said councillors represent at a regional and provincial level as well.
“There is a need to check your preconceived notion at the door, to seek understanding on why things are done the way that they are before running in to change them. I think one of the most important qualities of being a public servant is the ability to change your mind.”
Jim deBolbec said a councillor is speaking for the collective thoughts of the community and not just one perspective.
“Based on the past performance of the current town council and the decisions they have made, I feel the councillors, unfortunately, may have lost sight of why they were elected,” he said.
Connie Barlow gave the final introduction and said, “I am running for council because I believe my record of service and the skills I have developed will compliment the abilities of those people who are already councillors, and I want to work with them.”
She added, “I would be committed to wise stewardship and respectful leadership. I believe every member in this community should have a say, and not just at election time, but all throughout the year.”
Questions then came from a random draw of chamber questions. The question had to be directed to a single candidate with a limited number of “wild cards” which allowed other candidates to answer as well. Commons was asked what he felt could be done to attract growth and create opportunity that will encourage business retention and attraction.
He used the example of a recently passed zoning bylaw as being restrictive to owning or running a business.
Barlow also answered this question and felt different like-minded groups needed to work closer together to help promote and develop the area.
Baxendale spoke about the importance of the Trans Canada corridor.
“Part of getting people to stop in the community is to make it inviting to them…getting them into the downtown and staying for one night. Seeing what we have got to offer and staying for two nights,” she said.
Each candidate was given a chance for a final comment at the end of the forum. Commons was the first to speak and explained he hears how angry and frustrated people feel with the Town of Golden.
“If you don’t get involved you end up with the situation Golden is in right now, a divided community on a downward spiral,” he said.
Hern was next to speak and shared his view on a couple of questions raised during the evening.
He wants to see a flood control committee formed to look at all potential options, not a beautification project using flood control as an excuse. He also felt the council and staff needed to prioritize what is important for the area.
Baxendale said there has been an undercurrent of negativity in Golden but this is something happening in many places during these tough times.
“What will make us special in these times will be our ability to see this hardship through,” she said.
She added Golden must be ready when the economy turns around and that she is a strong believer in community engagement.
Next to speak was deBolbec who said he wished they could have nights like this more often where ideas of the community are passed around.
“I would really push to get a more open and transparent government,” he said. “We have got to bring the people of this community together and working as a team.”
He also said that not everyone will agree but they have to work hard to get what they want.
Barlow ended the forum and said, “I do not have that feeling of doom and gloom. I go to work everyday. I have to tell you I go through most of my days not dealing with anybody complaining.”
She said that people should celebrate Golden and all of the wonderful things that are here.