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Forums offer a glimpse of potential councils

Posted on October 3, 2013 by Taber Times

When it comes to the Oct. 21 municipal election, those who are wondering how they will be casting their ballots are faced with the challenge of how well they actually know the candidates.

Certainly, a candidate who is well known in a community has a certain advantage over someone who is new to the community or who may not have been previously involved on a community level. Getting out and getting to know the electorate is difficult if one expects candidates to go door-to-door.

While there is nothing wrong with this campaign approach, it is not only time consuming, but all but impossible in larger urban centres given the four-week campaign schedule.

A feasible option is an election forum. In Taber, the local electorate will be able to hear from their respective candidates on Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. In the community, the Taber and District Chamber of Commerce, Toastmasters, and the Heritage Inn will be hosting the forum and have invited candidates to answer questions from the crowd.

While some people would much rather meet with potential candidates one-on-one, the forum experience does give voters an opportunity to not only see all the candidates at one time but to also get a feel for how various candidates might be able to work together as members of council.

It’s kind of like a hockey coach trying to determine which line matches will work the best for the betterment of the team.

Often times the best fit for a council may not be the combination of individuals a voter might select if they only had their own knowledge and first-hand experience to draw on.

Maybe there is a candidate you might not be considering, likely because you haven’t seen them in action before.

Sometimes the rookie in the group might be the best fit and you can see this for yourself if you attend an election forum.

By attending the election forum you not only get the opportunity to ask your own question of the candidates but you can also learn a lot from the questions others in attendance will be putting forth to the candidates as well.

It’s more than likely people will be asking questions you might not have considered, which might also have an impact on how you will eventually cast your ballot.

To choose a candidate based only on your previous knowledge of them or maybe because you consider them a friend is not giving the election process its due respect.

Just because someone makes a good neighbour or a good friend doesn’t mean they will be the best representative for you on town council. Being on council and making decisions on behalf of an entire community takes a certain set of skills.

Just being popular or well known in the community doesn’t mean a candidate is the best fit to serve as a council member, it doesn’t mean they aren’t either but to really know you need to see them in action.How a candidate reacts to a question and answer session at an election forum and how they interact with their follow candidates can tell you a lot about how they will act on council.

If nothing else, an election forum can give the voters insight into how their chosen candidates might be able to work together as a team on council. Therefore, it is important to attend the election forum and judge the candidates based not only on how they handle individual questions but on what the best fit might be for the overall council as a whole. You might be voting for individual candidates, but to be effective, they have to work together as a team.

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