Debate #3 … Never say never to hope

Karen Hirst

On Wednesday evening the final debate of three, organized and sponsored by PRATAC and others, saw the finale to three successful candidate debates held over a three-week period.

The Civitan Hall in Almonte overflowed with a substantial slice of mixed representation from across the rural and urban landscape of the Municipality of Mississippi Mills.

Two females and the male incumbent vying for the Upper Canada District School Board Trustee position for Beckwith, Carleton Place and Mississippi Mills, collectively offered a wealth of educational and administrative experience. Each candidate certainly had the qualifications and spoke passionately about education and the current challenges facing teachers and students in the classrooms and dealing with the pressures coming from the province. One could see any one of these committed candidates as being an exemplary choice.

Candidates for the Deputy-Mayor and Mayor positions were equally strong in offering a wealth of varied educational backgrounds, experiences, skills, and knowledge that they could bring to the Council table. Each candidate exhibited and spoke of their character strengths and revealed what the voting public might come to expect for them in the performance of their duties including the simplicity but powerful message: ” I am kind.”

There was no question that each saw the need to improve upon communication in the next session of Council and each candidate presented ideas inclusive of having Town Hall meetings, distributing printed material as a method of sharing information especially regarding the financial status of the municipality, use of the internet and time allowance at council meetings for interaction with the audience to name but a few of the suggestions put forward.

Finances and gaining an understanding of the current deficit and expenditures was high on the minds of many in the audience. Attempts made by the incumbents to bring the facts forward was met with an equal pushback by others who suggested that the information was either incorrect or the process was flawed and warranted an audit to sort it all out … being a topic that most people don’t understand and having had seeds of distrust and doubt planted as to the competency of the handlers of our tax dollars, the issue leaves most of us drowning in a sea of dollars and cents!

A wide range of topics including opting out of the controversial Heritage designation, issues surrounding affordable housing and land development, infrastructure, bike lanes, parkland, each garnering support or rejection from a very engaged audience.

Well moderated, sustained civility throughout, pertinent questions and attempts to address from the differing perspectives of each candidate, left the evening in the decisive hands of the audience. And regarding that I offer my final assessment of the evening.

Hope makes all things possible.

With so many concerned citizens from across the breadth of Mississippi Mills showing up to hear the candidates last evening one can only feel hope that we all want the same end result … to make the very best selections for who will occupy the seats around the horseshoe over the next four years. We have been offered a broad range of credentials and character traits from which to make our choices and now the responsibility is ours … to get out and vote.