Nine candidates who are gunning for the six councillor seats on Estevan City Council in the upcoming civic election discussed the issues facing the community during a candidates' forum October 9 at the Estevan Royal Canadian Legion.
Councillors Rodney Beatty, Chris Istace, Brian Johnson and Dennis Moore, former councillor Lori Carr and hopeful candidates Greg Hoffort, Cameron Robock, Kevin Smith and Mohammad Waseem offered their thoughts during prepared statements, and while answering questions from the host Estevan Chamber of Commerce, as well as the public.
Beatty said he has felt the warmth and charm of the community since he came to the community five years ago. Transparency in government is critical, and he believes that Council should spend more time debating the issues in an open setting, rather than behind closed doors, so residents have the facts about issues.
Carr discussed her career in the financial management sector, and how it helped her during her six years on City Council from 2003 to 2009. She said it helped her realize the importance of fiscal responsibility, and she promised that she would resume to pay close attention to the budget if elected.
Hoffort said that he has been an advocate for Estevan on many issues over the years, during his time as the RM of Estevan's administrator and the St. Joseph's Hospital CEO. He said he has been a team player on many important committees. Council should act with a common purpose and common sense.
Istace wants to be an ambassador and a promoter of the community, and he wants everybody to be proud of Estevan. He believes Council has done a good job of initiating some projects in the last term, but now it's time to take the next step. Crbside recycling is a must. Roads and other infrastructure must also be addressed.
Johnson felt his 12 years on City Council have given him familiarity with the City's department and the budget process, and he has found his Council experience to be very interesting. He wants money to be spent on deserving projects. Johnson also recognizes that a lot of work still remains on the roads in the community.
Moore noted that since he is retired, he's able, and willing, to meet with federal and provincial government ministers, even on short notice, to discuss the needs facing Estevan. He said he has several issues entering this year's election, including the need for more daycare spaces, poor sidewalk conditions and the state of Estevan's roads.
Robock cited housing is the biggest issue facing Estevan. He wants to see an increase in the number of affordable housing units and rental properties in the community. He would also like to see more work on the roads in the community, such as Sixth Street, which is a gravel road in downtown Estevan.
Smith said he has seen Estevan evolve from a small and stagnant community into a growing and vibrant city. He believes Estevan needs to continue with infrastructure projects, particularly with replacing water mains and resurfacing aging residential roads. And he would like to see greenspace projects continue to move forward.
Waseem said he meets about 400 people everyday through his job as the owner of the Estevan Fas Gas service station, which allows him to discuss local issues with residents. Estevan is not a clean, green community like it should be, he said, and he'd like to see more done to improve the condition of the roads.
The candidates also answered questions from the Chamber about their experience and the challenges facing Estevan, and they fielded questions from the audience.
The civic election will be on Wednesday, October 24.