All Candidates Forum held for By-election

The all Candidates Forum, moderated by Karston Henriksen, attracted approximately 80 residents on Tuesday, February 19th at the Community Centre. Bill Henley, Ryan Murray, Jerrilyn Schembri and Don McPherson are campaigning for the two available seats, left vacant by the resignations of Brian Sipe and Pernell Kirby.

Each of the candidates had three minutes for introductions, followed by a question and answer period from the floor.

Candidate Bill Hendley was first to the podium. Hendley introduced himself saying, ?I have been a resident of Tumbler Ridge since 1983, there are no secrets that there is a problem in Town Hall. We are returning to a one industry town, and we need to get Council back on track.? Hendley wishes to be part of the solution and not the problem, to serve the community, offer better public access to Council and he offers the experience and strength to make this happen.

Don McPherson introduced himself saying, ?I have worked in the mines, I have ran the Shell station, I have sat on Council for five years. I?m aggressive, but approachable.? Don?s reasons for running include; fair level playing field for both current and new business owners and advertising the town. McPherson would like to see a balance between Council and the community, and would like to be part of that solution…

Candidate Ryan Murray said that he trusts modern democracy. Everyone has a voice, and everyone should be heard, and that your opinions matter. He also stated, ?My principles are not open for negotiation, but I am.? You have a right to your opinion, and you will always know where my vote lies. Ryan stated ?If I wanted total agreement, I would talk to my wee dog Maggie, as she always agrees with me?.

Jerrilyn Schembri spoke next. ?I have been here 20 years now, and what I see is Tumbler Ridge divided, people afraid to speak up and those that do are afraid of not being heard. I stand for change. The time for talk is over, it?s time to act.? Schembri would like to see the youth more involved, the seniors issues dealt with and to aid the volunteers in giving them proper outlets and tools to help them accomplish their desires within the community.

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After the candidates gave their three minute introductions, Karston Henriksen opened the floor to questions from the public. Resident Doug Foerster asked ?With what Tumbler Ridge has in the bank are you willing to look into funding public transportation both internally and externally?? This question was directed to all candidates. Schembri was the first to respond. ?I think the money is there in reserves, but whether it will be used for transit, I think would take a lot of community and Council talk.?

Ryan Murray answered next, ?We need to recognize that some of that money is already spoken for, we can?t just apply it anywhere. There is a lot of repair and maintenance needed for municipal structures.

Don McPherson stated ?I think we should approach Greyhound Bus Lines, instead of using Tumbler Ridge?s funds. Greyhound seemed interested in the past with the idea of an external outlet here in Tumbler, and we do have a taxi service within town now.?

Bill Hendley said ?I don?t really think our town could sustain a transit system, the town just isn?t big enough for something like that. TR Cares has a service for medical purposes.?

Resident Henry Processor asked ? The town seems to be getting a lot of bad publicity, how are you going to try and fix this??

Bill Hendley tackled this question first. ? There needs to be more dialogue, you can?t assume that seven or five or even one person for that matter, has all the answers, we need to all climb on board and paddle in the same direction.?

Don McPherson then stated ?I can?t really say I know how they got to where they are at, but being on Council is not an easy job. It seems to be an easy fix, lets try going back to the rules, I?d like to see that happen.?

Ryan Murray said ?Let?s develop a collaborative attitude?

Candidate Jerrilyn Schembri then gave her answer ?I think what needs to happen, needs to happen from the top down. If the top is not functioning properly then it?s only the community that suffers; when the top comes around so will the media.?

A question from the floor about Arts and Culture left all four candidates in agreement that this was an important issue. Drama, Music, and Art are all very strongly supported areas in Tumbler Ridge.

Another question that was asked of the candidates was ?What are you going to do, to bring businesses into town??

Schembri responded first, ?We need the road blocks removed! To be able to encourage new and existing businesses to build and expand, we need those road blocks removed.?

Murray said ?Being a local business man for the past three years, I know how hard it can be. When you look at availability for assistance there?s a lot there. I want to see Town Hall implement some of it.?

Don next stated, McPherson: ?We should be the ones to tell Town Hall what it is we want, not the other way around. The attitude that Tumbler Ridge is giving out is that we don?t want anything new here.?

Hendley closed the question with, ?We need to create a climate for businesses to come to and grow within. So often we are dealing with bad impressions. I believe we have a lot to offer, and we need to treat our existing businesses better as to make new ones want to come.?

The next question was a two part one, and a yes or no answer was asked of them. First part of the question was ?Are you satisfied with the bylaws bi-laws we currently have?? and the second part of the question was, ?Do you think the Bi-Laws bylaws need to be enforced??

Henley started the answers for the candidates with ?yes and yes.? Don McPherson agreed with ?yes and yes.? Ryan Murray gave his answer of ? Not sufficient enough and yes.? Jerrilyn Schembri closed the question with ?some but not all?.

Resident Joe Tummins asked ?If you are being presented in Council with a Bi-Law bylaw that needs changing are you willing to follow the proper process?? Jerrilyn opened this answer session with a ?Yes.? Ryan then followed with ?Yes, we have to get all the information and make sure we look at it from all sides.? Don said ?Yes, I will follow the proper process.? and Bill replied with ? Yes, the proper process needs to be followed so people don?t get hurt, and bylaws Bi-Laws need to be looked at more carefully?.

Joe Tummins also asked a second question ?Are you going to address it properly efficiently?? To this second part of the question all four candidates answered with a simple ?Yes?.

Brian Grey asked the candidates their next question, ?Do you feel the blog has been helpful to the town or has it been a) detrimental b) experimental or c) just mental??

Jerrilyn Schembri answered with ?All three. I myself have posted on the blog. I have always signed what I have written and I have only ever used it for good, thanking volunteers and so forth. It needs to used for the good of the town, not the bad.?

Ryan Murray stated, ?It?s a tool, if it?s being used for the bad then I want nothing to do with it, if it?s constructive then yes it would be a good tool.?

Don McPherson said ?Can?t we just kept it to the town, and just talk to each other about it. I think you should have to put a signature to what you write or it doesn?t get posted.?

Bill Hendley closed the question with It?s freedom of speech. I just wish there was more courage on the part of the people writing and more concern for the impact on the people that live here.?

Doreen Young gave the candidates their next question to answer. She asked. ?What qualities and skills to make good decisions do you have to offer??

Bill replied with, ?I like to see Council work together better. I bring experience from committees and Council and getting them to work together.?

Don added ?I bring a little bit of experience, the way I see it is, you have seven seats and seven votes, one vote per seat, majority rules.?

Ryan followed with ?I will not go to vote to too quickly. If I don?t have all the facts my vote will be no. I like to hear all sides first.? and Jerrilyn closed it with her answer of, ?I offer conflict resolution, emergency management, the ability to serve and listen, and to be heard. I have been known to have a loud voice from time to time.?

The closing question for the floor was simply ?What commitment are you willing to make to prove you?re going to do what you say??

Candidate Bill Hendley answered, ?My word counts, I say what I do, and I do what I say.?

Don Macpherson?s reply was, ?I love the Community and this area, and I will go to any lengths for the town of Tumbler Ridge.?

Ryan Murray stated, ?I thought long and hard before running. I figured if I?m going to do it, I?m going to do it right!? and Jerrilyn Schembri finished with her answer of, ?For those of you who knew me before I decided to run, you know I haven?t changed. I will not change from who I was before to during and then after. I make no promises; I will just do what I can do. Without communication, you don?t have a community.?