In the words of Councillor Sam Waddington, “Welcome to the theatre, although it’s a different kind of theatre.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 10, Chilliwack’s five mayoral candidates met at the Cultural Centre for an all-candidates meeting with city residents, and the resulting evening of politicking turned into quite a show.
As hundreds of political proponents filed into the Centre for an engaging evening of live, local political fare at its best, they were given the option of asking one, or all, of the candidates a question through an online portal, on submitted question slips, or in-person at the microphone.
Guided by a simple Q-and-A format, the evening started with the city’s 14 councillor candidates answering questions put forward by the crowd, which nearly filled the Centre to capacity, and after a short intermission, the mayoral hopefuls stepped up to the plate.
For the next 90 minutes, all eyes and ears were on Brigita Crosbie, Sharon Gaetz, Ken Popove, Dave Rowan, and Sam Waddington as they vied for the approval of Chilliwack’s constituents by answering their questions to the best of their ability.
Questions such as what sort of plans does the city have for senior recreation programming or centres; how can the City make itself more transparent for the general public; do you support or have ideas for rapid transit infrastructure to address population growth and traffic congestion; how would you create a 0 per cent tax increase, or achieve equal funding for art organizations; and is the city better or worse than it was during the last election.
There were also some heavier questions asked of certain candidates.
Through the moderator, Paul Henderson, Waddington was asked if he’d resign as mayor—if he won—if the RCMP determined he’d inappropriately spent City funds.
“That’s a great question,” answered Waddington from his end of the stage, before going on to say the rules around the audit have his hands tied in regards to what can be said, but that he “will stand behind those findings.”
And while his answer didn’t satisfy everyone, including Gaetz, who vocalized her concern over what she perceived as a non-answer, the evening was ushered along.
Popove, who’s been on council for the past two terms, was also challenged to prove how he was different than the current mayor, Gaetz, as his voting is usually inline with hers.
“I’m a business man and Chilliwack is a business,” he replied. “The form of leadership I plan to bring forward is collaboration and (team work).”
However, there was across-the-board agreement amongst the mayoral candidates when it came to matters such as the economical advancement of Chilliwack, homelessness, and the rental and opioid crises.
“For me, I’d be fixing the crime. I’m tired of it … (and) we’re all feeling it. I get it. We’re the 18th most dangerous city in the country” and that needs to be changed.
Along the same lines, Rowan also highlighted his concern over the state of the city’s streets and reiterated his belief that the pathway to better the city and its future is through our youth.
“Youth are a big part of our community … and without them, we ain’t got a future.”
Shortly after 10 p.m., and after each mayoral candidate had had the opportunity to speak to the questions that concerned them most, Henderson closed the question period and thanked the audience for coming out and participating, and encouraged them to reach out to the candidates and carry on the conversation.
To see more of our municipal election coverage, or to find out more information about any candidate running in this year’s election, please visit the Municipal Election section of our website, at TheProgress.com/municipal-election.