Kinsmen to host candidates’ debate

E. L. Crossley Secondary School. MARK K PHOTO

All Regional, Town Council candidates invited to participate

Special to the VOICE

Passionate is how Kinsmen Club Member Kevin Twomey describes this year’s municipal election.

“I can’t recall an election prior to this where there have been so many passionate candidates running and residents concerned about the community issues as this one.”

With this observation, Pelham residents will once again have an opportunity to hear the platforms of contending candidates, this time focusing on Regional Council candidates as well as those running for Pelham Town Council.

The Fonthill and District Kinsmen Club decided to host the event in partnership with the Welland-Pelham Chamber of Commerce based upon the organization’s mandate, “Serving the Community’s Greatest Need.”

Twomey is the Public Relations chair with the Fonthill and District Kinsmen Club. He said some Pelham residents approached the organization inquiring if they would be interested in hosting an all-around candidates debate for Regional contenders as the only other forum held so far focused on the town’s top position—the mayor’s seat.

The idea was taken back to the organization where they discussed it to determine whether it was something that fit within the organization’s mandate.

The result?

“We felt this debate fell in that mandate,” Twomey said.

“This election has stirred up a lot of passion and, as a club, we saw it was part of our duty to organize and give the candidates an opportunity to be heard by residents so they can make an informed decision on choosing a council and Regional representative that best aligns with the future vision of Pelham.”

After initially approving the Regional candidates debate, community interest snowballed to also include the 20 Town Council candidates running for six seats, two per each of Pelham’s three wards.

“Again, members of the community asked if a town councillors debate could be considered and can we make it work on the same night,” Twomey said. “It wasn’t a matter of can we make it work—we decided we have to make it work. There was no opportunity for them [to present themselves to voters] up to this point.”

“There are a number of great candidates running for council. We had to do something to support them,” he said.

“As a lifelong resident of Pelham, I know many of the candidates and they are great people. With the number of candidates running, we are pleased to see so many people about serving their community,” Twomey said. “It’s a great thing, we are fortunate to have that.”

Twomey said that democracy is vital.

“The club encourages everyone to vote for the person that best suits their vision for how they want the town to move forward.”

Because of the “snowballed interest,” the debate will be held in the E. L. Crossley Secondary School cafeteria instead of the Royal Canadian Legion to accommodate more attendees.

The Kinsmen Club is organizing the event logistics, while the Chamber of Commerce is handling the debate questions and format.

Twomey said he’s hopeful the event allows for a true debate amongst candidates. This is so voters can observe where they stand on issues and how they will potentially present themselves in debates at Town and Regional Council meetings.

Doors will open next Wednesday, October 10, at 6 PM, with the Regional candidates starting first at 6:30 PM, followed by the Town Council contenders at 8 PM.

Candidates will have three to five minutes allotted at the beginning to introduce themselves and then answer questions with the format yet to be determined.

Twomey noted that community sponsors stepped forward to help the Kinsmen Club offset event organization costs, that way no funds earmarked for community initiatives were used.

“We have great candidates, great issues, we just need a great voter turnout and we encourage all to do so,” Twomey said.

“Let’s allow democracy to happen. Then, after the election, we encourage everyone to work with the new council to serve the community’s greatest needs.”


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