About 200 voters took advantage of the opportunity Tuesday night to meet the candidates running in the upcoming municipal election at a forum organized by the Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce.
All candidates running in the Castlegar area for the positions of mayor, council and RDCK Area J director participated in the forum.
Each candidate was given three minutes to address the audience. Once the speeches were done, candidates were stationed around the room and were available to talk with those attending.
The format is new for the Castlegar political scene, but most people present seemed to appreciate the ability to speak face-to-face with the candidates and get their specific questions answered.
Castlegar News broadcast the speech portion of the forum live.
The three mayoral candidates used their speeches to highlight their strengths, accomplishments and plans for the future.
Incumbent Lawrence Chernoff emphasized his leadership qualities, historic focus on the citizens of Castlegar and accomplishments of the city during his tenure such as competitive tax rates, Columbia Avenue improvements, Millennium Park and sound fiscal management.
Looking to the future he spoke about positioning Castlegar as a service centre for the area, solving the airport’s problems, attracting new businesses and residents, infrastructure improvements and bringing expansions to the community complex to reality.
Deb McIntosh emphasized her 16 years of work on city council and experience chairing every sitting council committee as well as her commitment to the city. She also talked about her history as an advocate for social issues.
If elected, she plans to set a positive tone and lead with “kindness, inclusion and equality.” McIntosh would also like to continue supporting businesses and the Chamber of Commerce, increase health care providers, review the city’s herbicide/pesticide program, continue infrastructure upgrades and support Sculpturewalk.
Bruno Tassone talked about his four years of city council experience and work history of 37 years with Castlegar’s public works department. He emphasized work that needs to be done with the city’s infrastructure and implementing the city’s asset management plan.
If elected he would implement an “open door policy” to better hear citizens concerns and would like to broadcast council meetings. He would also focus on balanced fiscal management and avoid increasing taxes unnecessarily.
There were several common themes in the questions that residents asked the candidates, but mainly people just wanted to chat and get to know the candidates a little better.
Question topics fielded by the candidates included the future of the Castlegar Community Complex, the Waterfront Master Plan, the 14th Avenue wetlands area, plans for better citizen communication, support for Sculpturewalk and opportunities for growth in the light-industrial sector.