Forums are an excellent way to inform voters about election issues giving them the chance to do comparisons between candidates and their positions. It is also one of the most effective ways to activate voters into participating during a campaign.
The candidates stepping forward to attend all three official forums are to be commended. Their interest in letting voters know their position and what they will be able to offer during a term in council already speaks highly of their commitment to the electorate.
Forums enable young and old alike to logically and realistically evaluate where they would get more bang-for- their-buck. Having the opportunity to listen to each candidate; having the opportunity to ask questions of each candidate and hear their responses gives strength to making an informed decision.
A one-on-one approach, or the trendy “election speed dating”event is a social function and not an highly informative one. It is pick-up-line politics where the voter may get answers they want to hear, but will most definitely miss out on the responses to interesting questions addressed to candidates from other voters.
Not being able to see how a candidate reacts under pressure is also a downfall to this approach.
The candidate’s message is curtailed leaving him to present a brief political stump speech to the voter. Gone are in-depth discussions on issues; gone are any trace on policy positions.
The bottom line is that it offers nothing of substance and relatively little value to a voter. The voter leaves with impressive loaded phrases that have no significance, no guarantees, no witnesses that can substantiate what was said.
Being fully informed is what is needed. Knowing that candidates are willing to represent ALL residents instead of a certain segment of the population makes for a viable candidate.
ALL residents have a future here. ALL residents will be affected by the decisions made with the next council. To cater only to one sector during an election reveals either desperation or how a candidate will conduct themselves while in office.
Those that choose not to participate in the official forums make their own statement of what they think of the majority of the people they may eventually represent. Avoiding factual and/or uncomfortable issues tells the electorate enough of where certain candidates stand.
In a city where all, regardless of background, are to be considered equal and whose present council strongly advocates a social master plan, it is surprising that when it comes to testing a portion of this plan, some of the originators and supporters of this plan fail to follow through.
Oh, yes. Election forums are definitely enlightening.
The first official forum is tonight – Thursday, October 10th, 2013 at the Arden Theatre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Forum Moderator: Eileen Bell
Forum Panel: Richard Plain, past mayor – Gerry Manegre, past Councillor – Norbert Van Wyk, past City Manager