Mayoral debate swells the library

From left, Toby Esterby, Gary Vidal, Al MacFarlane and Alex Lucyshyn squared off at the public library in the all-candidates debate, Sept. 6

By Ben Ingram

The library was packed for last Tuesday’s all-candidates debate with some residents even forced to watch the event through the spaces between the bookshelves.

All four candidates took their turns answering five prepared questions as well as responding to several from the audience on Sept. 6. By the end of the proceedings their unique takes on a variety of topics affecting Meadow Lake had been made clear.

Developer Al MacFarlane sought to convey a can-do attitude based on practical experience in construction and management.

Gary Vidal’s main sticking point was informed goal setting, stressing that as a city, Meadow Lake should focus on its future and not its past.

Toby Esterby communicated his feeling that the city needs to engage a wider sector of the community while maintaining the current momentum of progress.

For Alex Lucyshyn it was a chance to chastise the city for not putting the taxpayer first while highlighting lagging efforts to clean up lots, roads and alleyways.

“Empty lots, grass four or five feet tall, I’m not blaming the city workers but somebody’s not doing their job,” Lucyshyn said when asked what Meadow Lake needs to do to ensure the Summer Games are a success.

In addition to questions about the Summer Games and infrastructure, the candidates were asked more general queries aimed at their leadership style.

When asked what the most important role of the mayor is, Toby Esterby sought to convey the need for a city ambassador, going as far as to say he would make himself available 24 hours a day to respond to residents.

“The mayor’s job is to take the vision of the city of Meadow Lake forward to the provincial government, to the federal government, to our neighbours,” he said.

When the debate opened up to questions from the audience, the first one asked was how each candidate would approach adjustments to the mill rate while keeping property values in mind.

Gary Vidal responded by saying he would like to see an increase in revenue as a result of growth, not necessarily by increasing levies.

“But is it a reality? Only time will tell,” he said.

Another question from the audience asked how they would work to ensure Meadow Lake embraces the knowledge of its community members in future projects.

Al MacFarlane said the task is to lay out a plan and fill in the blanks with the best possible solutions.

“But you need to make some definite goals and objectives and some work steps to get us there, I have some experience with that,” he said.

Advanced polls opened on Sept. 8 for residents to choose the next mayor but election day is Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Meadow Lakers can cast their ballots at City Hall.

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