On Monday, October 3rd, the Perth and District Canadian Federation of University Women, and the Perth Chamber of Commerce, and The Table Community Food Centre hosted a municipal all candidates meeting at the Perth Legion. 14 candidates vying for seats on council appeared before a packed house of over 160 people answering questions from both the organizers and the audience. The Table’s Ramsay Hart moderated the well-run event which started and ended on time lasting for 2 hours. The evening was split into 2 segments; the first for a group of 7 council candidates, and the second for the remaining council competitors and the 3 running for mayor.
Competing for the 5 council seats are incumbent David Bird (firstname.lastname@example.org), Jim Boldt (email@example.com), incumbent Leona Cameron (firstname.lastname@example.org) Marlene Donaghue (email@example.com), Sheldon Giff (firstname.lastname@example.org), Isabel McRae (email@example.com), incumbent Barry Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org), Meredith Toivanen (email@example.com) , Roy Van Der Mull (firstname.lastname@example.org), Gary Waterfield (email@example.com), and Derek Zeisman (firstname.lastname@example.org). Deputy Mayor Ed McPherson was acclaimed.
The first question from the moderator was how candidates viewed the role municipalities can play in improving healthcare systems. While most noted in their responses that the province was responsible for hospital funding, they all promised to work with their local MPP to push for more funding and investigate innovative ways to recruit new medical professionals and support clinics and health hubs. Cameron pointed out that the town could focus on what they can do to reduce illness by increasing access to recreation and supporting clinics. Toivanen suggested campaigning agency nurses currently working at the hospital to convince them to stay in Perth permanently. More than one candidate supported donating municipally owned land for new health-care builds and for more long-term care facilities. All candidates managed to stay with their assigned time limits making things easier for the moderator. While the audience supplied many questions, time only allowed for a few to be answered. But the organizers promised to email all of the submitted inquiries to each candidate allowing them to post answers on their chosen social media site.
During the mayor’s portion of the night, candidates were asked how they planned to mitigate climate change and negative environmental impacts from Perth’s forecast population growth to over 10K residents. Drummond suggested some type of public transit as well as increased tree planting and switching public works power tools to electric from combustion engine power. Fenik suggested encouraging net-zero new residential projects with expanded heat-pump use and the creation of 15-minute communities where residents could walk to local shops and facilities among other initiatives.
All candidates did well in terms of clearly communicating their positions, being extremely respectful of each other and keeping within time limits. YourTV Brockville/Smiths Falls recorded the entire event and it’s available to view on their YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_Rz8L07r9s). It’s well worth watching to help voters decide on the best choices.