Election hopefuls talked accountability and transparency at the Nov. 14 election forum in Black Diamond.
Candidates were asked what accountability and transparency mean to each of them, after a Turner Valley resident brought it up during the forum.
“Due to my past and recent exposure to our municipal processes over the past years, I feel accountability and transparency are an issue,” resident Gary Ashmore said to the candidates.
Council candidate Curtis Dixon said he had a solution.
“The solution to this is public engagement, folks,” Dixon said.
He went on to say that, during his year on Turner Valley council, he was disappointed with the amount of public engagement he’s seen. He encouraged citizens to go to council meetings and talk face-to-face with their elected representatives.
“We've had many public sessions, and invited people out, and we get one or two people that show up,” he said.
Council candidates Barry Williamson and Heather Thomson agreed that it’s a two-way street.
Thomson added that every council meeting, and most committee meetings, are open to the public and information is available on the Town’s websites.
In an effort to increase communication, Black Diamond Mayor Brendan Kelly said that Town includes a mayor’s message in its monthly newsletter, and Kelly said he regularly posts updates on social media. He is running for councillor in the upcoming election.
Candidates are held accountable by running in an election, said Turner Valley Mayor Barry Crane.
“Accountability is exactly why we’re here today,” Crane said. “We get held to account through the election process.”
Candidate Jonathan Gordon also talked about elections and said Town councils have a performance review whenever residents go to the ballot box.
Councillors are also accountable as residents of the Town's they represent, Cindy Holladay said.
“When we make decisions, it doesn't just affect you guys,” she told the audience. “It affects us, too, as taxpayers.”
Candidate Hazel Martin made a similar point when she talked about living in the community.
"I still want to be able to walk down the street and hold my head up high," she said. "I do not want to say anything falsely to anybody."
Later at the forum, during a discussion about costs, Dixon again talked about public engagement.
“We need folks to come out and tell us what's important to you,” Dixon said. “I'm not standing up here to tell you what's important to me, I'm standing up here waiting for you to tell me what's important to you.”