Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Charleswood-Tuxedo Candidates Debate Aftermath
Just back from the candidates debate moderated by Ernie Nairn, Executive Director for the Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the Charleswood Ministerial Committee (five churches in the Charleswood area) and the Canadian Mennonite University.
Six of the seven candidates were in attendance and around 350 people were in the audience. There appeared to be some media in the crowd, most noticeably CJOB, CBC and CTV.
Each candidate was allowed an opening and closing response. Five questions posed to the candidates by the moderator and they were made aware of the questions in advance. Those questions were decided upon by a variety of organizations, most of which appeared to come from social organizations with a left orientation. Around 45 minutes of questions were posed by members of the audience.
I am still left undecided when it comes to voting. There is one more candidate debate at Shaftesbury High School on October 20 at 8 pm. I will wait till that time to make my final decision.
The candidates were posed questions on poverty, housing, environmental (including transportation and urban sprawl), crime and taxes.
All of the candidates agreed the city needs a strategy on poverty and on housing. There were few policies offered and most said nothing could be done without the province. No one answered the question on whether condo conversions should be regulated by the city. Livio Ciaralli said that the city should consult with developers rather than dictate to them. No one really had a solution for people who rent.
In terms of the environment, most of the candidates talked about working with the province and better planning. Jarret Hannah said that he had a business dealing with the environment the last couple of years. Wendy Lenton said that she had done traffic consulting as her main business and understood planning.
On crime, Paula Havixbeck stated a few times that she had the police and firefighter unions supporting her and that she supported a new police station for Charleswood. Jarret Hannah said that the police station was already in the works and that he was looking at better community programs and watches. Wendy Lenton also talked about community watches and additional police. Livio Ciaralli said most of the crime in the area was petty crime but said he would give the police and firefighters anything they wanted. He also said he would drive criminals 20 miles out of town to laughter and a little confusion about whether he was serious.Steve Szego talked about better efficiency for the police and getting some of the paperwork streamlined so they weren't buried in it. Timothy Martin talked of neighbourhood watches and a balanced approach to policing and efficiencies.
On taxes, Steve Szego would look at all avenues before ending the freeze. Paula Havixbeck stuck to a freeze. Livio Ciaralli said that he would fight to get a fair 1% share of sales tax from the province. He said he was not in favour of property tax increase. The only candidate to say they favoured a modest increase was Wendy Lenton.
When it came to questions from the public:
Asked about who they would support as mayor:
All said they would work with either of the two main contenders. Timothy Martin, Jarret Hannah and Livio Ciaralli indicated they favoured Sam Katz and some of his policies. Paula Havixbeck said Katz was a "man of integrity".
On rapid transit:
Jarret Hannah said finish BRT. Steve Szego talked about better planning but that we needed public transit. Livio Ciaralli was dubious about rapid transit and said we had pretty good transit already. Timothy Martin supported rapid transit along with Wendy Lenton.
All candidates supported better support for infrastructure. Wendy Lenton said the roads were deplorable and Paula Havixbeck said Kenaston was an embarrassment.
On extending William R. Clement Parkway:
All candidates supported extending it but many said that the dog park should find a new home.
On term limits:
All candidates supported it in principle. None would agree to a referendum on it.
On paramedics having enough numbers:
Paula Havixbeck thinks they have enough. Jarret Hannah and Timothy Martin ambulances are tied up at hospitals. Wendy Lenton says the numbers indicate that Winnipeg does not have enough ambulances. Livio Ciarelli says he would given them what they wanted in support.
On education being removed on property tax:
All candidates support its removal.
On what the main issue is for the Charleswood-Tuxedo ward:
All candidates except Paula Havixbeck said that infrastructure and traffic were the main issues in the ward. She thought crime was the main issue. It should be mentioned that Wendy Lenton received the only spontaneous mass applause from the crowd by stating she wanted to keep Charleswood rural in its look and feel.
My view of the debate was that it was very polite. The only time I saw a jab was when Steve Szego said he would be non-partisan and have no political affiliation. Paula Havixbeck smiled at the remark as it seemed directed at her.
I was disappointed that Dashi Zargani was not present. He will have a hard time winning a lot of people over if he is not present at the next candidate debate.
Livio Ciarelli needs to be more concise in the timeframe of the question and answer. His focus on the 1% sales tax is an important one but it was too narrow. His answer on crime was probably not what most of the audience wanted to hear.
Paula Havixbeck appeared to have the big blue Progressive Conservative machine present. She was polished and hardest line on crime of anyone but the constant reminder of the support she was getting from firefighter and police unions was a bit overbearing. I kept thinking of what exactly was promised for that support.
Timothy Martin was too vague in a lot of his answers and seemed to drift a bit in his responses.
Wendy Lenton was fairly articulate on some of her answers but was not giving enough indications of how she was more outstanding in terms of ideas.
Steve Szego was too scripted. He also needed to find a way to break free from the pack.
Jarret Hannah was the most genial of the candidates, gave answers that were understandable and focused.
I have not decided who to vote for yet. I will attend the next candidates debate but what I will be looking for is a little more animated responses, less drift in the answers, a little more clarity in policy ideas and perhaps one or two outstanding initiatives that bring some excitement to the ward.
What might be some of those break from the crowd ideas?
How about lowering the voting age to 16 for municipal elections? How about raising the closing date for bars to 4 or 5 am? How about getting a Winnipeg exemption for Sunday shopping hours?
I will leave it to the candidates to think outside the box from here.