Candidates running for seats in Greater Napanee in the Oct. 22 municipal election will be given a public stage to address perspective voters over the coming weeks.
On Thursday, Oct. 4 the Napanee and District Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Napanee Ratepayers Association and the Rotary Club of Napanee are partnering to present an election event at the Strathcona Paper Centre, running from 6 p.m. to about 9 p.m.
“The plans are going very well. We have a majority of the candidates expected to attend,” said Megan Smith, the Chamber’s business manager.
The first hour of the gathering will allow all candidates for mayor, deputy mayor, councillor, and school board trustee to mingle with the audience and answer questions. Smith said Rotarians will be helping members of the public find their respective ward candidates.
After that, the focus will change to a mass presentation featuring the mayoral candidates — Brian Calver, Gavin Cross, Gerry Haggerty, Marg Isbester and Sam Salaam — as well as those running for deputy mayor — Carol Harvey and Max Kaiser.
“They will be given the opportunity to chat about their platforms and answer seven questions that will be selected by the moderator that night,” Smith said. “It’s an opportunity for the community to really listen to the people running for office. It’s important when you live locally to know your challenges are being heard and met and the community is working collaboratively.”
While the presenting organizations will supply questions, the public will be invited to submit questions until 6:30 p.m. A media moderator will decide which ones are asked during the presentation.
Smith said it is important to the Chamber to continue holding election events.
“For us, a large portion of our mission and mandate is that we are more than the voice of business. We’re really a positive, proactive partner in the economic and community development for the Town of Greater Napanee and district. We want to make sure we’re really educating people and making sure that we are kind of in the forefront in participating and lobbying for all levels of government.”
The Greater Napanee Ratepayers Association (GNRA) was incorporated in 2015 with a goal of improved governance and communication within the town. Its members report on town meetings and try to bring concerns forward to councillors. The GNRA maintains an e-mail mailing list and a Facebook group that has 820 members. The group has become a must-read for local politicos.
Director Hubert Hogle said the GNRA believes its’ important to shine a spotlight on candidates.
“We have 24 candidates this time. Last time, we had 17. There were meetings held for mayor and deputy mayor. They got to speak, but nobody got to hear from the candidates for council,” he said.
“This time, with so many running, many voters don’t have any idea of who is running. All of us in the Ratepayers wanted to do what could be done to get all the candidates to show themselves and debate the issues so voters can choose wisely.”
To that end, the GNRA will be holding subsequent meetings at Selby Hall Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 that will follow a similar format to the Oct. 4 meeting, but feature ward candidates. The Oct. 10 meeting will see candidates in Wards 2 and 4 and the Oct. 11 meeting will see Wards 3 and 5.
“All of the questions will be from the public,” Hogle said.
The GNRA had planned to hold a meeting for Ward 1, but struggled. Hogle said he understands that Ted Davie has planned a meeting for those candidates at the South Fredericksburgh Hall Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.
Prior to the Oct. 4 meeting, there will be a similar session that afternoon for senior NDSS students featuring candidates from both Greater Napanee and Stone Mills Township.
“We really want to get the students involved. They are our potential future business owners and community members,” Smith said.