Mayoral candidates (from left) Steve Wood

ELECTION 2014: Mayoral candidates asked to size each other up at forum

It was by far the best question of the night at the all-candidates forum put on by the Young Professionals of Campbell River

A murmur of anticipation rippled through the crowd after moderator Stewart Carstairs asked the three mayoral candidates “What would you consider the strength and the weaknesses of the other candidates for mayor?”

It was by far the best question of the night at the all-candidates forum put on by the Young Professionals of Campbell River (YPCR) and the Campbell River Mirror Thursday.

Approximately 300 people made themselves comfortable in the Tidemark Theatre’s new seats and settled in to listen to the 17 city councillor candidates and the three mayoral candidates respond to a variety of questions drafted up by the YPCR.

Because there are so many candidates, these forums can get tedious as the usual format involves allowing each candidate to answer each question. Thursday’s forum moved along at a quick clip because the YPCR organizers utilized a different format. From a list of 12 questions that were circulated ahead of time amongst the candidates, nine were applied to the councillor candidates, three were tackled by the mayoral candidates and one was answered by all. In addition, all the candidates were allowed to choose a question to answer at the end.

Not all the councillor candidates answered the same question. A handful of candidates were chosen to answer each question at a time.

There is not enough space available to provide the answers for all of the questions in the Mirror but much of the evening was recorded and segments will be available on You Tube. For the mayoral candidates’ closing remarks from the All Candidates Forum see: http://t.co/HAeOW7pwX4. For the Council Candidates’ closing remarks from the All Candidates Forum: http://t.co/PQ4Bddzt4Q. More responses from the forum will be released by the YPCR in the next few days and the Mirror will carry a portion of them in Friday’s paper.

But by far the question of the night that stirred the crowd was given to the mayoral candidates when they were asked, “What would you consider the strengths AND the weaknesses of the other candidates for mayor?”

Steve Wood was seen as a candidate with a strong desire to engage the community, by Andy Adams, but that was also a weakness in Adams’ opinion. Even though Wood has experience from being on city council for two terms in the 1990s, he hasn’t lived in the community for over a decade, Adams said.

Jakeway, who originally decided he wasn’t going to answer this question but changed his mind at the last moment, also pointed out Wood’s absence from the community as a liability and his previous experience on council goes back to former Mayor Jim Lornie’s era, and faced a very different set of circumstances.

“You’re outdated,” Jakeway said.

Adams’ experience was also discounted by the incumbent mayor.

“Andy’s strength is he’s very polite and has nine years council experience,” Jakeway said.

His weakness is he’s very polite and has nine years experience on council, Jakeway quipped.

Jakeway believes politicians have a shelf life and it is about nine years long.

“That is about the limit of effectiveness,” Jakeway said.

Jakeway also believes that Adams politeness is a liability because sometimes you need to be aggressive both at the council meeting and in pursuing Campbell River’s objectives outside the community.

“Sometimes being in the mayor’s seat, being polite is less than desirable,” Jakeway said.

Wood called Adams out on the record of past council’s spending habits. Adams and his cohorts have “apparently been on a spending spree…during difficult times,” Wood said.  He cited the expensive Area D referendum, they traffic lights at Petersen and 14th Avenue, as well as the series of tax increases imposed in the past budgets.

“I have to hold you accountable,” Wood said.

Adams commended Jakeway on his ability to generate ideas, some good, some not so good. But his weakness is his inability to gain consensus amongst councillors and convince them to support his ideas.

A lot of times with Jakeway, “it’s not what he is saying but how he is saying it,” Adams said.

Adams also said Jakeway’s decision to align himself with a slate of likeminded candidates will limit the diversity of voices on council.

“It shows a lack of respect for democracy,” Adams said.

Wood took a similar tack, with regards to Jakeway. He likes Jakeway’s aggressiveness and his attempts to achieve “modest tax hikes” but criticized Jakeway’s inability to deliver on his program because he failed to convince other members of council of the value of his agenda.

You can vote as early as today in the second advance poll at the Tyee Plaza or on election day Nov. 15.