SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - The battle for mayor is on.
Those vying to lead Summerside will have a chance to debate the issues in front of voters at an upcoming mayoral debate sponsored by the Journal Pioneer, Harbourfront Theatre, Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Summerside Inc.
On Oct. 22, mayoral candidates – who to date include former longtime mayor Basil Stewart and current city councillor Brent Gallant – will take the podiums in public contest answering questions about current issues and topics impacting the city. Other potential candidates have until Oct. 19 to enter the race.
“Debates are a great forum, especially at the municipal government level,” said Brad Works, managing editor of the Journal Pioneer. “The issues that will be contested here are arguably the ones that are closest to the residents. This is the meat and potatoes of grassroots politics.
“It’s also a great opportunity for voters to truly see who these people are, what they stand for and how they intend to conduct themselves if and when they are elected,” added Works, who will also serve as the moderator of the debate.
The free event is open to all members of the public and, prior to the mayoral candidates taking the stage, will also feature remarks from each of the candidates seeking councillor seats at the city council table.
“This event allows our business community to learn about candidate platforms and ask the tough questions to help them make an informed decision when it comes time to vote for their next mayor,” said Tara Maddix, manager of operations for the Chamber of Commerce. “We will be reaching out to our members directly, encouraging them to submit questions they would like to see addressed.”
That opportunity is available to residents of Summerside as well. Questions can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Maddix says the candidates she has been talking to about the event have been keen to participate.
The debate format will follow those of the past. Councillor candidates will each be introduced and have two minutes to discuss they’re platform. Then after a short break, the mayoral debate will begin.
“After the break Brad Works will step in as moderator and basically ring the bell for the big boxing match between the mayoral candidates,” said Kieran Keller, the executive director of Habourfront Theatre. “We’re excited to be a part of this process once more and serve as a venue and platform where the candidates can speak to the public.”
He added, “It’s nice that they’ll all be in one place, I think that will really help the public make sense of everyone’s platforms and get to see them. Debates are important in communities because they provide an avenue for people to understand who the people that are asking for votes are, while also allowing the candidates the opportunity to explain why they’re running.”
“The chamber and its members are looking forward to hearing the responses especially those that concern businesses in Summerside. This will allow them that chance.”
Questions will be submitted by chamber members as well as members of the public.
The event begins at 6 p.m. with a meet and greet reception for the public and candidates. Then at 6:45, the councillor introductions will begin. Once each councillor candidate has had their two minutes, the debate will start.
Organizers are expecting the event to run until about 9 p.m.