Where's the Public Mayoral Candidates Debate?

Word on the street is the only debate between mayoral candidates planned so far will be a Chamber of Commerce sponsored event at the Connexus Arts Centre, October 22 at 7:30 am. I also hear that this will be a breakfast event and to attend you have to pay for the breakfast.

Hope you can make it. I can't. A.) Not sure I can afford the meal ($45 at the door for non members). B.) I have a daytime gig that keeps me from going to stuff like this.

Which isn't to say I'm not glad the CoC has come through with a mayoral debate. I'm happy there'll be a chance for (some) voters to hear from Pat Fiacco, Jim Elliott and Linda White.

But a pay-to-get-in, early-morning-on-a-workday debate is hardly what I'd call public.

And this is an important year for a debate between mayoral candidates.

The way things stand right now, there was no property tax increase last year, some spiff new plans were recently approved for the city, Regina's future is looking pretty bright. Times are good. (Unless you're a renter looking for an apartment, that is.) And that means it could be a tough year to unseat incumbents, especially from the mayor's office.

And yet I've interviewed people and heard grumblings from some other people I've met who aren't so happy with the direction council has taken on some issues. We can congratulate ourselves on how well things are for Regina, sure. But at election time, I'm thinking the mayor should have to answer to some of those grumblings whether Regina's all hunky-dory or not.

And he should have to provide those answers out in the open, at a public forum -- preferably with mics set up for questions from the audience. Hate to get all hokey and earnest by throwing the big "D" word around, but isn't that all part of a healthy democracy?

Certainly, I don't think it should fall to the candidates to organize such a forum. But it sure would be nice if there was some kind of system in place so that a public mayoral candidates forum was automatic, even if there isn't a big hot-button issue that has the city all in a froth. (Wouldn't it be nice if we had a grand, centrally-located rotunda for such an event -- in, say, a revamped public library, maybe? I'm just saying.)

Don't know if that's the kind of thing we can hope to see in a bylaw or something at some point. But in the meantime, I guess we just have to hope that some local group will step up and put something together in the waning days of October.

For the record, I have heard there's a group at the UofR that's considering organizing just such a debate. Hope there is. And if so, let us know.

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