Municipality of South Dundas residents gather Sept. 29 at Matilda Hall in Dixons Corners for an all-candidates debate with the township’s 13 electoral candidates. In alphabetical order, Jason Broad, Bill Ewing, and current Deputy Mayor Kirsten Gardner are vying to be mayor, while current Coun. Don Lewis, Marc St. Pierre, and Tammy Thom are vying to take on the deputy mayor position. Vying for one of three available councillor positions are Michael Burton, Trevor Riopelle, Tom Smyth, Cole Veinotte, Danielle Ward, current Coun. Lloyd Wells, and Jeff Welsh. Casselman Photo
DIXONS CORNERS – “We have a very large turnout of candidates. I would like to thank all candidates for putting their names forward,” Glenn Swerdfeger said. “In my opinion, it takes a great deal of courage to run for office and you have my respect.”
Swerdfeger moderated the one and only Municipality of South Dundas All Candidates Meeting to be held this election season. Hosted by the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce and the Dundas Federation of Agriculture (DFA), the Sept. 29 event was held at Matilda Hall in Dixons Corners. With roughly 200 people in attendance, all 13 candidates were on site, ready to meet voters and answer questions.
There are three candidates running for mayor, including in alphabetical order, Jason Broad, Bill Ewing, and current Deputy Mayor Kirsten Gardner. There are also three candidates vying to be South Dundas’ next deputy mayor, including current Coun. Don Lewis, Marc St. Pierre, and Tammy Thom. Seven South Dundas residents have filed their nomination papers hoping to nab one of the three available councillor positions, and these include Michael Burton, Trevor Riopelle, Tom Smyth, Cole Veinotte, Danielle Ward, current Coun. Lloyd Wells, and Jeff Welsh.
Each candidate was given three minutes to make an opening statement. The debate opened with questions from both the DFA and the Chamber of Commerce before opening the microphone for residents to pose their questions. The format included 30 seconds for the question followed by 90 seconds each for two of the candidates. With 13 candidates, the debate was broken into two parts with candidates for mayor and deputy mayor being questioned in the first part, followed by candidates for councillor being questioned in the second.
Questions ranged from the typical, such as infrastructure needs, economic development, as well as open and transparent communication between the township and its residents, to the atypical, such as the overpopulation of Canada geese, better ways of dealing with poison parsnip, and the controversial suggestion of charging visitors to use municipal parks. While the DFA asked agriculture-related questions, the Chamber of Commerce focused on issues around business, both small and large.
Following the debate period, candidates were given an opportunity to make closing statements.
While some reiterated their opening sentiments, others addressed the comments they heard from residents throughout the evening.
“I just want to say, on stage there are 13 people. Five of them are going to be declared winners, but the other eight are not losers,” South Dundas Chamber of Commerce president Jim Cooper said. “Everybody up there has already done something, and I encourage the other eight people to be just as active in the next four years whether you win or not. Keep this council that’s going to be coming in, accountable. Don’t walk away, you didn’t lose.”
To watch and listen to the candidates’ statements and answers, visit the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page, where a recording of the Sept. 29 event is to be uploaded soon. To learn more about the Chamber, visit the organization’s website (southdundaschamber.ca). To learn more about the Dundas Federation of Agriculture, visit their website (dundasagriculture.com). Both groups can be found on Facebook.