After nagging council wannabes for looking and sounding like a bunch of unschooled deer caught in the headlights of tough questioning from voters, I must compliment them for their performance at last night’s sellout KDN-NL-KTW forum at the TRU Grand Hall.
I haven’t taken in every forum and candidate event during this campaign, but I’ve been to a few. The difference between the way the candidates handled themselves at last week’s North Shore BIA forum, and last night’s Question Period 2011, was night and day.
Suddenly, the likes of Bryce Eberle, Brendan Shaw and Ayren Messmer seemed to actually want to be there — instead of bumbling their way through answers and looking like they wanted nothing more than to crawl under a rock, they were comfortable, confident, articulate even.
Old hands like Arjun Singh and Peter Sharp (both former councillors) were less uptight than in the past, and the incumbents held their own, with Pat Wallace delivering one of the best gag lines of the evening, equating herself to the heritage trees in front of RIH, which she estimated will probably be dead within 20 years.
Mayoral candidate Brian Alexander gained admirers when he challenged the audience on whether they had smoked marijuana. “Less than half,” by his reckoning of the show of hands, had not.
I find Dennis Paget, Chris Ortner and Raymond Nyuli impressive because they actually know stuff and don’t stand there making lofty promises or promoting pie in the sky ideas that cannot stand the test of practicality, jurisdiction or budgeting.
I also learned some other things last night. For one, don’t under-estimate the interest in this election. I arranged for far too few chair, but the TRU room crew rose to the challenge and hauled out at least a couple of hundred more as the crowd grew before the 7 p.m. start time. It was, in fact, the biggest turnout for an election forum in Kamloops ever — about 600, maybe more.
I also learned I’ve got to check out the setup of the room earlier in the day, as the crew was also put to the test bringing in tables for the stage and water jugs for the candidates.
Nevertheless, I thought the format worked well, and the sponsors will be reviewing the evening to see if things should be changed in any way for future forums.