Rossland candidates for mayor and council were given a chance to sway voters on Wednesday at an All Candidates Forum in the RSS gym.
As a lead up to the Saturday, Oct. 15 election, Rossland Rotary helped organize the event and Rotarian John Sullivan moderated the forum.
Two candidates for Mayor, Andy Morel and Kim LaFond, and 10 of 11 candidates for council attended the event, with only Tim Thatcher absent due to illness. In all, 250 residents packed the gym and were given the chance to hear from council candidates Eliza Boyce, Paul Evans, Craig Humpherys, Richard Kemick, Lisa Kwiatkowski, Brian Pistak, Maya Provencal, Stewart Spooner, Sam Troy and Jeff Weaver.
The candidates opened with a three minute speech introducing themselves, and then through a draw were randomly given the opportunity to answer questions from the community.
The queries were solicited earlier through social media and forum organizers selected six of the most common and cogent questions. Also, candidates were given a wild card that they could use to respond to a question for which they weren’t drawn.
“It was a format that we’ve used, although we changed it this year, we used a wild card which we hadn’t used in the past,” said Sullivan. “One of the complaints that we had from those that attended the Trail one was that the questions weren’t balanced, one candidate got one question another got four. So we really wanted to make sure that everyone had an opportunity to answer.”
Questions raised included ongoing issues such as addressing the lack of seniors, childcare, and affordable housing, resolving the Trail Residency Program (TRP), to more recent ones such as the candidates support of the Rossland Yards Project, inflationary pressures and taxation, council’s relationship with city staff, and how to manage growth and development while keeping the spirit of Rossland intact.
“The candidates did extremely well,” said Sullivan. “I think that there were some tough questions, and I think that was the intent to make it a little tough so that the community has a bit of an answer out there.
“There’s a lot of pressing questions for this new council moving forward, and we tried to draw that out as best we could, and I think they did a great job at answering those questions.”
Morel and LaFond were each given two minutes to wrap up the evening with an impromptu speech to make a case for their bid for the mayor seat.
The incumbent Morel sat on council for eight years and also was council’s representative at the Regional District Kootenay Boundary.
“It has been a pivotal role for me to be involved in city council,” said Morel. “I’m keen to continue the progress obviously that we have built, the accolades came from many people tonight on the previous couple of councils – I’ve been part of that.
“I want to continue now to take on a leadership role as mayor and hope to have your vote to help to manage the bright ideas coming forward from this table and the amazing staff that we have that support those ideas and see them through to fruition.”
LaFond also has experience on council and served Rossland from 1999 to 2005.
“Now almost 20 years later, I am semi-retired and I do have the time to devote to council,” said LaFond. “I have the skills to be the mayor of Rossland, I have been a long time Rosslander. I’ve seen the changes. I’ve seen the developments. Rossland has changed, and that ship has sailed, so now it is how do we handle the change, how do we handle the development, and keep Rossland, Rossland?”
For the moderator, most responses were comprehensive and insightful with each candidate showing their passion for the city and a an uncanny willingness to serve the community.
“From what I heard tonight, everyone is committed to give us a prosperous future and keep us in good hands,” said Sullivan. “But only time will tell on that one.”
The municipal election goes Oct. 15 with voting at Miners’ Hall from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 1765 Columbia Ave.