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Candidates aim to dispel slate rumours

Bundles of election pamphlets arriving together at homes in St. Albert don't mean slates are forming, candidates say. For the past week, residents have been receiving several candidates' campaign literature at the same time.

Bundles of election pamphlets arriving together at homes in St. Albert don't mean slates are forming, candidates say. For the past week, residents have been receiving several candidates' campaign literature at the same time. A card about the upcoming plebiscite has also been making the rounds. The deliveries prompted speculation of two slates forming, with one rallying around mayoral candidate Cathy Heron and the other involving mayoral candidate Cam MacKay. But candidates whose pamphlets have been included in the bundles say no such slates exist; rather, the bundles are a byproduct of volunteers delivering for more than one campaign. “(Volunteers) have that right, but it is not planned or co-ordinated,” she said. Volunteer Kevin Malinowski confirmed that's the case. Malinowski is volunteering for five campaigns: Cathy Heron, Wes Brodhead, Natalie Joly, Ken MacKay and Jacquie Hansen. He says he approached each candidate separately about volunteering for them. “It’s the five I’m supporting and voting for at this point,” he said. “To me, it’s just giving a hand to the people I support – it just kind of makes sense.” Mayoral candidate Cam MacKay said logistically speaking it makes sense to pool volunteers. With 24,000 households to reach, he estimates each campaign would need up to 200 volunteers – equating to thousands of volunteers if there was no overlap between the 28 candidates running this year. “It’s just a lot more efficient,” he said. Councillor candidates Jacquie Hansen and Ken MacKay said their volunteers are supporting other candidates as well, while Charlene Jelinski and Al Bohachyk said they pooled resources with other candidates in order to distribute pamphlets but emphasized their platforms are their own. “While I do see similarities between my platforms and other candidates (those whom distributed together and any others) I see extreme differences as well,” Jelinski stated in an email. “A slate also indicates an unwillingness to work with others. This is not true of me.” Bohachyk said the collaboration means financial savings, easier sign installation and better distribution of campaign literature. “I suppose folks can call this arrangement whatever they like … I would call it a collective group that demonstrated teamwork," he said. Councillor candidate Sheena Hughes said the bundles make things easier on candidates. "This is just a matter of agreeing to understand that this workload is often too much for one person to be able to take on by themselves," she said. Candidates Jaye Walter, Mark Cassidy, Sandyne Beach-McCutcheon, Steve Stone and Gilbert Cantin confirmed they are also not part of slates.

Perception of slates could have consequences

James Burrows, a former councillor who was elected in 2001, says the appearance that there are slates can be very polarizing for an election, whether candidates say they’re part of a slate or not. “If they don’t see it, that’s fine – but whoever is dropping their brochures sure sees it as a slate,” he said. Burrows served on council until 2010. During the 2001 election, he considered himself part of a slate called Sensible Choice, which was in favour of building Ray Gibbon Drive. During that election, all incumbents were defeated and an entirely new crowd of councillors were ushered in. “I can almost see the same thing happening in this election, where it’s so polarizing that some people might say, ‘You know what? Maybe it’s time to do what we call Operation Clean Sweep,’ ” he said. Neil Korotash, who is volunteering for several candidates this election, was elected alongside Burrows in 2001. Although he didn't consider himself part of a slate, he agrees the perception that slates exist is powerful. "It does affect people's perception – it does become this perception that it's sort of two-sided," he said. "You see a lot of people identify with that on social media, as well."

Candidates start library information campaign

Rumours of slates were bolstered by the appearance of a new information card on the upcoming plebiscite, authorized by Bohachyk, Cassidy, Hughes, Jelinski, Stone and Walter. The card includes alternate suggestions for how to address space pressures on the current library or pay for the project, a breakdown of the project's costs and a synopsis of how city council has handled the plebiscite. It also includes a reminder that the plebiscite is nonbinding. The six candidates confirmed they signed off on the card in an effort to fill what they see as an information gap. "We are running independent campaigns – our own platforms – but we did agree that this educational service was important enough that we actually put our own money into it to produce it," Hughes said. Hughes, who has been vocal in her support for more detailed plebiscite questions, said the six candidates all chipped in for the card, which they hope to deliver citywide in the remaining days before Oct. 16. "This isn't a pro or anti-library campaign. These are information items you may not have been aware of that you need to know before you vote," she said. The latest estimates from city staff, which were presented Sept. 5 but won’t appear on the ballot, put the branch library at $19.5 million for construction with an operating cost of $1.26 million and a tax increase of 3 per cent. Costs for another ice sheet would be $20.5 million for construction, $279,000 for annual operating costs and a tax increase of 2.1 per cent. Costs for an aquatics facility would be $13.7 million for construction, $310,000 for operating costs and a 1.6 per cent tax increase. The card states a tax increase of three to five per cent associated with the library project. Hughes said the candidates felt it necessary to put a range in order to reflect their doubts about the projected tax increase. She pointed to estimated operating costs of the branch library as being much lower than the operating costs of the current library. "We wanted to be able to give a realistic range," she said.

April Hudson

About the Author: April Hudson

April is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette
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