Emo Chamber hosts candidates’ forum

Dave Ogilvie

Last Wednesday marked the first municipal election candidates’ forum in Emo in recent memory.
Hosted by the Emo Chamber of Commerce, about 100 people attended the forum at the Emo Legion.
The evening opened with Chamber president Dave Goodman welcoming everyone and then introducing Steve Latimer, who served as moderator for the forum.
Latimer outlined the format for the evening, then introduced all of the candidates.
The two candidates running for mayor are incumbent Ed Carlson and challenger Vincent Sheppard while eight individuals—Ken Fisher (incumbent), Gary Judson (incumbent), Anthony Leek, Geoff Pearce, Harriet Sheloff (incumbent), Robert Simmons, Vernon Thompson, and Daniel Young—are vying for the four seats on council.
All the candidates were on hand except for Sheloff, who had to attend to a family illness.
Latimer explained that he would be reading prepared statements from Sheloff.
“Each candidate will be given two minutes for their opening statements, and will speak in alphabetical order,” Latimer said.
“The time keeper will hold up a yellow card when you have 30 seconds remaining and a red card when you must stop speaking,” he warned the candidates.
The first to speak was Carlson, who outlined the accomplishments of the present council, including improvements to the road and sewer systems, the purchase of good “used” equipment for the municipality, the completion of the sports field, spray park, and abattoir, and the municipality’s operation of the handi-van.
Sheppard addressed his concern for a change in municipal government.
“We deserve leaders who are fair, open, and exercise common sense, and leaders who understand the value of trust and who work as a team to achieve the goals of the municipal official plan,” he remarked.
Sheppard went on to say council would revisit the official plan if he is elected next Monday (Oct. 25).
Fisher, who has “been on council a long time,” promised to continue to work for the community by attending meetings two or three evenings a week.
Judson, meanwhile, said he is proud to have been part of the council’s success in recent years, and promised to work to keep young people in the area.
Leek, one of the newcomers seeking a seat on council, spoke about his work for the Borderland Racing Association and about his experience in student government at university.
He, like some of the other candidates, stressed he comes to the process with no preconceived ideas, but is open to suggestions from the public and will work to make Emo a place of possibilities for young and old alike.
Pearce, who sat on Emo council for a period several years ago, said he regrets leaving and would like to work once again for the community, adding he is open to the concerns of all citizens.
Sheloff, in a statement read by Latimer, explained she has lived and worked in the area for 18 years. She believes she has the citizens’ concerns at heart and will work hard to make Emo a great place to live.
For his part, Simmons wants to see things change in Emo and believes the best way to do that is to become involved in the political system.
He stated he is open to new ideas and will listen to feedback from the voters.
Simmons also would like to help the fire department with increased funding.
Thompson, a business owner in Emo for many years, promised, if elected, to work with the rest of the council to continue to make Emo a great place to live and work
Finally, Young also stated he has no pre-existing agenda. He has lived in many places around the world and believes Emo is the “finest little town” in Canada.
He pledged to work openly with the rest of council to maintain this image for the town while working to establish positive growth.
The candidates for council then were asked three questions:
•What is your vision for Emo and give one example of what you would like to accomplish in your term?
•How do you see making Emo a better place to do business?
•As a taxpayer, what are your views on transparency, accountability, and communication in municipal government?
A common theme seemed to be central in most answers. The candidates want to see the water and sewage systems extended so that the subdivisions can be developed.
They also want to attract new businesses to Emo in order to create jobs.
Those running for council are excited about the possibilities for the town, should the gold mine start production, but warned they also will have to plan for economic development that is diverse and long-lasting.
The two candidates for mayor were asked one question: What do you see the role of mayor as leader is?
Sheppard, if elected, said he would conduct “open, fair, and proactive discussions on all concerns facing our municipality now and in the future.”
He pledged to give citizens a voice in local government by seeking input and participation.
Carlson believes the mayor needs to be able to work with others, and promised to continue council’s partnership with other levels of government in order to complete the projects it has initiated.
To conclude the evening, each candidate was given two minutes to sum up their presentation.
Goodman then closed the forum by thanking the candidates for the participation and everyone for attending.
Afterwards, many stayed for coffee and a one-on-one session with several of the candidates.