The Merritt Civic Centre lived up to its name on Monday night, with 20 candidates for both Mayor and Merritt City Council presenting their platforms and fielding community submitted questions from moderators at the Chamber’s All Candidates Forum. The Civic Centre’s auditorium was standing room only for much of the evening, with hundreds of locals anxious to see who their options would be at the ballot box.
The forum was moderated by Roger White, program director and afternoon host for Q101, who asked the 20 present candidates a series of questions submitted to both the Merritt Chamber of Commerce and the Herald. Council candidates Jay Barley and Darrel Brooks did not attend the forum, and Mary Fleury left after the second question due to a headache. Candidates were given 90 seconds to introduce themselves, and 30 seconds to respond per question.
“It’s definitely a pretty banner year for this election,” said Joe Nemeth, program coordinator with the Chamber.
“The big thing is voter education. This is a critical piece of education not just for us as voters to find out what the candidates are all about, but it’s huge for the candidates as well. They learn what the voters respond to and are passionate about.”
The following questions were asked to all the candidates, regardless of if they were running for Mayor or Council:
What is your plan for long term housing in Merritt?
Is future flood prevention more important than fixing the current housing issue?
For phase 4 residents who still aren’t home, should security be provided over the winter months?
What are your thoughts on a rainbow crosswalk being presented to council?
What relationships have you built that you see helping you as a council member?
How will you communicate city projects and allow locals to have their say?
What are you going to do to encourage big business to move to Merritt?
“In my opinion, this in-person interaction is what pulls the walls down. When you engage in discourse these days, typically it’s through social media and online news. It’s fantastic that we have that immediacy of information, but we lose a lot of vetting and a lot of people speaking for their own platforms,” added Nemeth.
The Chamber has held its All Candidates Forum for a number of election cycles, hosting municipal, provincial, and federal candidates after their respective writ has been dropped. For more information on the Merritt and District Chamber of Commerce, or to watch the recorded version of the All Candidates Forum, visit www.merrittchamber.com.