It's not cheap for a non-profit organization to host an All Candidates Meeting. But it's money well spent.
It cost AWARE — The Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment — $1,000 to host an All Candidates Meeting in advance of the 2011 election. And it's stepping up to the plate again.
"I think it's really important for us to understand where our potential elected officials and candidates are coming from in advance to them getting into office," said Claire Ruddy, executive director of AWARE. "The organizations that step up and organize all candidates meetings are organizations that have very heavily embodied concerns and public following with the community — WORCA, the Chamber of Commerce. We're creating these forums because we believe people have something to say to our future politicians."
This time AWARE is joining forces with the Whistler Centre for Sustainability and the Whistler Public Library for a meeting on "Environment & Sustainability."
The meeting will take place on Tuesday Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. at the library.
The format will be similar to previous all candidates meetings with candidates getting an allotted timeframe to share priorities, expertise and background. Following those presentations the floor will be open to the public for a question and answer period.
"I think that the sustainability scene seems to be a hot topic right now..." said Ruddy. "I think it's interesting because sustainability isn't one of those things that goes away. It's, by its very nature, embedded in the community so I think it's great to have it come back to the forefront of discussion."
From the environmental side, Whistler is in a continual balancing act between the way it uses the land for recreation and the extraction of resources and maintaining a sense of wilderness and healthy backcountry ecosystems, Ruddy added.
Candidates will be asked to fill out an online survey ahead of time and that will be posted on AWARE’s website.
AWARE is also trying something a little different this year to entice more voters around to learn about their candidates in advance of polls opening. It has started a crowd-funding campaign to cover the costs of offering free childcare at the event.
“It’s not a big cost by any means; it’s a few hundred dollars,” explained Ruddy. “But as a charity that is trying to manage its expenditures — we’re based on donations and project funding — we felt that this was something that was very tangible, very immediate, a very short-term thing.
“We thought we’d throw it out there to the community to say ‘hey, do you want to help support breaking down barriers for people getting involved in public process?”
Check out www.awarewhistler.org for more information.
On Oct.29 Pique, the Question, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce and the Whistler Arts Council will join forces to host an all candidates meeting at Millennium Place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The format will be similar to the AWARE meeting with questions posed by both the sponsors and taken from the floor.
On Monday Nov.3, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., WORCA will host an all candidates meeting at Whistler Secondary School.
Attendees will divide up into small groups and sit down at a table with the candidates giving them a chance to give a short "elevator pitch" before providing an opportunity to ask questions. Every five minutes the candidates will move from table to table, speed-dating style.
The meeting is open to the general public, not just WORCA members, and is a great way to communicate with the candidates in a casual environment.
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