The three Steinbach mayoral candidates faced some loaded questions from seniors last night at the Part Porter Active Living Centre monthly potluck.
Pat Porter board member and former mayor Les Magnesson explains the board wanted to invite the candidates to come and get to know the seniors and also what their centre is all about. "We wanted the candidates to meet the seniors," notes Magnesson, "we wanted the seniors to ask questions of them as potential mayor of this city. Seniors do take the time to vote, yes they do, and they want to know who will be the best candidate."
Each candidate was given five minutes to introduce themselves and talk about their platform. Afterward, it was opened up to questions from the floor.
One gentleman brought up the hot topic of Sunday shopping and asked each of the candidates what their position is on the matter. John Fehr stated he does not quite trust the results that came back from a recent survey. "The results indicated that there was 60.3% that thought it was a good idea to leave it up to the business community to decide if they would be open or not," says Fehr. "I happen to know that the chamber of commerce had done their own survey some time ago and found that 80% of the business community did not want to be open so I thought it was an open and shut case."
Paul Neustaedter notes this is an issue that could be very divisive in the community but points out it doesn't have to be. He says if people moved to Steinbach because Sunday is a quiet day and they like it that way, then a plebiscite would show that same result. "I would also support a question, 'if possible, are you willing to work on Sunday?' I would want to listen to what the citizens would have to say at that point."
Candidate Earl Funk stuck with his initial position saying he likes it the way it is now. He notes if the city, chooses to go down that road, Funk would like to see it being driven by the business community. "Right now the businesses are not saying very much so I'd have to say that they're most likely not in agreement with it and for that reason I would go back to what my heard tells me and I like it the way it is."
Magnesson closed the evening with the last question for the three candidates and asked them if they would support the senior centre going forward through tax incentives.
Funk says the city has neglected its seniors in recent years and adds they would need to sit down and come up with a plan on how they could support them going forward. "There was a disservice to this group that does so much for our community," notes Funk.
Fehr echoed some similar thoughts and says he would definitely support the seniors if elected as mayor. He notes there are people on council that feel the grant process is for seed money only and I don't know if I agree with that," says Fehr, "I think when we see organizations in the community that make a significant difference in the lives of its citizens, we need to get engaged and endorse those people."
Neustaedter kept it short saying he would support the seniors in the community and advocate for giving money to the Pat Porter Active Living Centre but the rest he adds is yet to come. "I will look forward to October 17th where I will announce something that won't cost the taxpayer any money."
Other questions that came up touched on topics such as health care, transgender and gender diversity issues, traffic concerns and multiplex.
Steinbach voters will hit the polls on October 24th.