This Article is By: Nancy Foster On Oct. - 11, 2006
KINGSTON - FIRST ALL CANDIDATES’ MEETING, October 10, 2006
Is this municipal campaign all about LVEC? How widespread and deep is opposition to LVEC? Is that all voters care about?
If this meeting is any example the answer is yes, the campaign is about LVEC and those who attend public meetings are overwhelmingly opposed to it. Now that really doesn’t give any indication of how wide and deep is the opposition. After all, the Kingston Taxpayers’ Association called this first meeting. The first question of the candidates – Vicki Schmolka and John Chown was from Howard Stone the founder of the Taxpayers’ Association. Howard began confrontationally by painting the current council as split between Downtown Business Association supporters and ‘independent’ thinkers. He asked candidates which group they would fall into. Both candidates handled this well, stressing their independence. What else could they do?
Distrust of the current council was widespread tonight as questions about taxes and secrecy dominated the evening. Grey heads dominated the crowd of approximately 50 people. Maybe this will be true of all the future meetings, but lets hope not. It is possible that the attitude toward Council was a bit louder than usual because there was no incumbent before the meeting – George Stoparczyk having announced his retirement.
The meeting was well run but did not encourage debate between the candidates to explore differences in their ideas, if indeed there were any. Vicki Schmolka was noticeably softer in her presentation than at the last election. John Chown, who is not noted for his short remarks, was admirably held in check tonight. Originally it appeared that there were no fringe candidates in this election. Wrong. Anna Robertson is a fringe candidate. She arrived at 8:40 – the meeting having started at 7. Her insights included ‘Tourism, yes its great for the hospitality industry’. And ‘Greenland is melting’. We deserve a higher level of preparedness as demonstrated by the other two candidates.
Schmolka and Chown stressed that they would ‘listen to the people’. I regard this as a way of indicating that they (and the audience) feel that the current Council has NOT listened to the public. This theme was reiterated again and again over the Memorial Centre, LVEC, Naming of Market Square, the Multiplex, and Lake Ontario Park Development. The third crossing’s appearance as a new Council priority is going to have trouble with either Schmolka or Chown as neither thinks it ranks.
If there were differences between Schmolka and Chown it was indicated by their stand on possible contracting out. Schmolka being generally opposed and Chown not generally opposed. The candidates were very careful not to offend on this and other issues. Their forbearance in the face of aggressive questioning was admirable. They clearly demonstrated their ability to think quickly on their feet.
For the first time ever, in my experience, a Board of Education candidate, appeared at a meeting. Dave Jackson a Board candidate for Portsmouth/ Trillium introduced himself and gave a brief summary of his platform. Can we have more of this please?