Loyal Wooldridge crowd favourite at Kelowna all candidates forum | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Loyal Wooldridge crowd favourite at Kelowna all candidates forum

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
October 18, 2018 - 11:00 AM

KELOWNA - If it was up to the people attending Wednesday’s all candidates forum in Rutland to pick the person who will top Kelowna’s polls in Saturday’s municipal election, it would be no contest.

Loyal Wooldridge was the clear winner during the two-hour forum sponsored by Central Okanagan Early Years Partnership and B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition.

Candidates were asked what they would do to improve the number and quality of daycare spaces in the city.

“Speaking to Okanagan College and their early childhood education centre, a lot of wages (for daycare workers) are around $15,” Wooldridge said. “So, we really need to start treating early childhood education like the career it is.”

That triggered loud applause and cheers from the roughly 100 audience members.

Wooldridge was cheered a number of times, including when candidates were asked how they would support the Journey Home strategy to battle homelessness.

“If elected, I would like to be the liaison between city council and Journey Home,” Wooldridge said. “We need to deal with homelessness from the child’s level. We need to look at treatment for children and youth.”

Cheers were few and far between, but Mayor Colin Basran won audience appreciation for a comment about making city parks and facilities more accessible.

In reality, this audience wasn’t likely representative of the Kelowna electorate as the forum was focused strictly on poverty issues.

And, it could be, they were pro-Wooldridge to start with because, according to him, he met with more than 100 community organizations over the last year since he decided to run for council. Therefore, he was likely known to many in the room who simply showed their appreciation for his interest.

This was one of only two public forums (the other focussing on senior’s issues in late September) that included all candidates for council. There have been a number of sessions limited just to mayoralty candidates.

As such, it did give some insight into what the candidates for councillor have to offer. After all, the mayor only has one of nine votes on council.

While all four candidates for mayor were on stage, they did not have anything new to add to comments from previous forums.

Only 12 of 21 councillor candidates were able to speak. The cut-off date to make it onto the stage was Oct. 10 so some candidates in attendance were not allowed to participate.

Here are some comments of note from candidates:

  • Dustin Sargent called for tax rebates to renovate existing buildings that put in daycare spaces.
  • Incumbent Luke Stake talked about council facing opposition from neighbours for a proposed daycare. As a consequence, council changed zoning regulations to allow daycares in all residential neighbourhoods.
  • When asked about advocating for $10 per day daycare, Gordon Lovegrove said: “The best child care is an at-home parent. Pay them $10 a day, then pay a living wage to the other parent.”
  • Kevin Bond accused some candidates of being communists for saying subsidies for daycare or transit should be income based. He was the only one strongly opposed to the Journey Home process (it’s a top down structure) and, echoing U.S. President Donald Trump said: “I’d like to say to existing city council: You’re Fired!!” A short time later he said he would work with council on poverty reduction.
  • Craig Hostland suggested that, since transit ridership is low, kids should be able to ride for free to fill the empty spaces, just as kids should be allowed to attend hockey games for free to fill empty seats.
  • Mark Boyer called for a ward system so Rutland would have, maybe, four candidates to choose between. Even though the forum was held in Rutland, Boyer only got the normal polite response for that suggestion.

While there was polite applause for each speaker — with the occasional enthusiastic cheer — a heckler twice called out “drain the swamp,” an American expression most recently used by Donald Trump when referring to Washington, D.C.

Forum master of ceremonies, Chris Walker from CBC radio in Kelowna, wrapped up the session by chastising that heckler.

“These people, local politicians, are not our enemies,” he said. “This is a hard job. So, forget the silly slogans, and will you please stand and thank them.”

Which triggered a standing ovation and the loudest cheers of the night.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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