The men and women running for Abbotsford council in this month’s municipal election faced questions on issues such as homelessness, development and policing during an event Thursday night.
The session, held at the Ag-Rec Centre, was hosted by three local business groups and followed a different format than most all-candidates meetings.
Each candidate was given one minute for an introduction. Then they were situated at assigned locations around the room to be personally questioned by voters.
Every 15 minutes, voters were asked to move on to the next candidate. The idea was to give citizens time to get to know the individuals on a more personal level.
Seventeen of the 18 candidates were on hand. The only one unable to make the meeting was Harvey Jongsma.
Some of the AbbotsfordFirst candidates – newcomer Dave Sidhu and incumbents Sandy Blue, Kelly Chahal, Brenda Falk and Ross Siemens – fielded questions about slate politics.
“I would vote for you, but I don’t like the slate,” one man told Falk. “For me, that’s pretty much a deal-breaker.”
Falk responded: “I have always voted my conscience … As an entire council, we work together to build community.”
Newcomer Josh Reynolds, the youngest candidate, said in his opening remarks that his concerns about the AbbotsfordFirst slate was one of the reasons he chose to run for council.
“Slates are dangerous to democracy and toxic to our city,” he said.
Reynolds had among the largest group of people speaking with him during the two-hour event.
Other topics addressed included business development, traffic issues, recycling concerns, monster houses, homelessness and agriculture.
The other candidates in attendance were incumbents Les Barkman, Patricia Ross and Dave Loewen, as well as Jas Anand, former mayor Bruce Banman, Vince Dimanno, Aird Flavelle, Harry Manocha, Paul Redekopp, Lawrence Tilley and Dao Tran.
They are vying for eight seats on council during the Oct. 20 election.
The all-candidates event was hosted by the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.
The next such meeting – for mayoral and council hopefuls – is on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at the Legacy Sports Centre, starting at 7 p.m. The candidates will have an opportunity to discuss their visions for the city’s sports, arts, culture and recreation.
That event is hosted by Sport Abbotsford, the Abbotsford Arts Council, Tourism Abbotsford and CIVL Radio.