By June Norvila
A good crowd attended the town council candidates’ forum Oct. 6 at the Bentley Community Hall.
The captive audience of more than 50 people was there to hear and see the five candidates running for four town councillor positions. There was a good cross-section of ages of voters.
Guest moderator Rick Cookson-Hills opened the evening with an introduction of himself and an explanation of the format of the forum and then gave each candidate seated on stage the chance to introduce themselves.
Most mentioned a lot of the same visions for the town in their prepared speeches as well as some of their own interests. Candidates started out nervously but as the evening went along it became apparent they got more relaxed.
Incumbent Cliff Knutson mentioned holding the line on taxes and getting water to the western industrial section of the town.
Lynda Haarstad Petten is interested in senior housing and the possible need of some kind of recreation board.
Butch Howard mentioned the importance of the library and fire department and said he will tackle any issues brought forward to him as he has no preconceived ideas.
Pam Davey listed a variety of issues she has heard from people while going door-to-door and considers the library very important to the town.
Incumbent Sandra Smyth feels she can draw on her past political experiences including those before moving to Bentley and wants to ensure the school stays viable.
After a short coffee break, the moderator read questions that had been written out and handed in, and gave each candidate a chance to reply to them.
Questions posed included how council could better communicate with residents and let them know what is going on, renovations/upgrades to the current municipal library, the long time issue of the pig odour in town, what to do about trailers parking on the streets, a more accessible dump station for bigger RV units, who would pay for getting water to the west of the train tracks, what constitutes council confidentiality, and feelings regarding the speed limit through the Highway 12 and 20 intersection west of town.
The 75-minute meeting ended with closing remarks from each candidate.
Some people hung around to talk to candidates. Many attendees said it was very helpful to see the candidates in action and that they had got some answers to some of their questions. Most in attendance, including the candidates, agreed it was a good idea that someone had initiated hosting a forum.
Some in the audience criticized the level of censorship regarding what questions were allowed to be asked. Some had not heard their questions, or anything similar, asked even though they had written them down, signed them, and handed them in. It had been mentioned earlier that those with any unanswered questions should talk to the candidates personally.
All in all members of the Bentley Library Society deemed it a very successful event. They were pleased with the turn out for their first time effort at staging such a function and for the chance to help inform and educate voters. The Bentley Community Hall board was a co-sponsor.