Happy City St. John’s event attracts 17 council hopefuls
Approximately 70 people were on hand Thursday night to hear what municipal election candidates had to say about themselves at Happy City St. John’s all-candidates forum. — Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram
Those who attended Thursday evening’s all-candidates forum hosted by Happy City St. John’s were given the opportunity to learn plenty about the candidates looking for their vote in this month’s municipal election.
However, there were faces missing at the three-hour event, which was held at Memorial University’s Bruneau Centre. Of the three candidates for mayor, Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary was the lone attendee, arriving late due to a public meeting at city hall.
Only one of the candidates for deputy mayor was on hand to answer questions — Jennifer McCreath.
Of the 29 candidates looking for votes in the upcoming election (not including Coun. Danny Breen, already acclaimed for Ward 1), 17 were present by the end of the night. There was only one incumbent candidate — Coun. Sandy Hickman.
As Happy City St. John’s chairman Josh Smee explained, Thursday’s forum was about giving those candidates a chance to explain their approach to representing the city’s residents on council by answering a variety of questions.
“We all recognize that the candidates in the first two rows, they all do have lots of ideas for specific policies that they want to take on,” said Smee.
“But they’re also all going to be faced with a whole host of things that we have no idea what they are right now. There’s going to be new challenges. There’s going to be issues coming up that have never come up before, and so I think one of the ways that we figure the people of St. John’s can understand how you, as a council, as a team, are going to approach this is to talk about the things we’re going to talk about tonight.”
On their vision for what they hope to see in St. John’s when taking in the view from Signal Hill in four years time, many candidates mentioned the same things.
Improved public transit, green space, a vibrant business community, an inclusive city, pedestrian-friendly streets, protected heritage structures and a safe city were amongst the items mentioned by multiple candidates.
Thursday’s event also took a fun approach to informing the audience of approximately 70 who showed up at the Bruneau Centre. Each candidate took a turn to roll a six-sided die, with the number corresponding to a question. Those who rolled a six were lucky enough to make a selection from among the five questions.
Representing the race for councillor at large alongside Hickman were Dave Lane, Lorne Loder, Paul Sears, Lionel West, Cecil Whitten, Derek Winsor and Fred Winsor. All three Ward 2 candidates were present — Scott Fitzgerald, Jonathan Galgay and Andrew Harvey. That was also the case for the Ward 4 race, as Bernard Davis, Tracy Holmes and Lou Puddister were all on hand.
For Ward 3, Sarah Colborne Penney was the only candidate at the forum, while Sherwin Flight was the lone candidate present for Ward 5.