Advance polls for the 2021 municipal election opened this week in St. Albert and Sturgeon County, and with them came announcements of several candidate forums meant to help voters make their choices.
Sturgeon County council candidates will debate online Oct.14 at 6:30 p.m. as part of a forum organized by the St. Albert and Morinville chambers of commerce. Up to 11 candidates from Divisions 3 to 6 are expected to debate audience-submitted questions on a variety of issues as observers watch a livestream on the chamber’s Youtube and Facebook pages.
Organizers decided to hold this forum online because they couldn’t find a venue that could host it under the province’s pandemic safety measures, said Morinville and District chamber manager Roberta Pawluk. Based on past forums, she predicted about 150 people would show up to watch.
Pawluck said moderators would collect questions from email and online chat to collate and present to participants. Questions will be county-wide rather than division-specific, with each candidate getting about a minute to respond to each. Candidates will also have a minute to make opening and closing remarks.
Pawluck asked voters to send questions to [email protected].
Pawluck said the Morinville chamber will also host an all-candidates forum for the Morinville election on Oct. 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Community Cultural Centre.
“With the number of candidates (14), it was just easier to do it live,” Pawluck said of the in-person format, adding that it would also be streamed to the chamber’s YouTube and Facebook pages.
Pawluck projected that about 150 people would turn out to this forum. Guests will have to present proof of vaccination, a privately-paid negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours, or an original medical exemption letter to get into the cultural centre (which is part of the province’s vaccine passport program) and wear masks while inside, as per the province’s pandemic health measures.
Pawluck said chamber members will collate topics from the audience into three or four questions for the candidates, possibly with some specific questions for the mayoral candidates. Participants will have a minute to respond to each question and a minute to make opening and closing remarks.
The five St. Albert Ward trustees will speak at the Greater St. Albert Catholic online forum Oct. 13 at 7 p.m., said Carryl Bennett, president of the Greater St. Albert Catholic Teachers’ Local 23. Each will get two minutes to introduce themselves before answering four to six questions received in advance from forum organizers, with responses capped at a minute per question. Audience members will have about 20 minutes to ask questions.
Bennett said guests have to email [email protected] to participate in the forum. She was unsure if the forum would be live-streamed or archived.
St. Albert Public Teachers’ Local No. 73 spokesperson Ellen Snaith said the union will host an online forum for St. Albert Public trustees Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m., the link for which will be published that day on the St. Albert Public trustee election website. Like the Catholic forum, candidates will get some questions in advance and receive others from the audience.
No forum had been organized for Sturgeon Public trustees as of Oct. 4. Any forums will be listed at sturgeon.ab.ca/board/2021-board-elections.
Morinville, Sturgeon, and St. Albert residents can vote in advance polls this week for councillors, mayors, trustees, senators, and on two referendum issues.
Voters will have to be masked to visit any poll station as per provincial health regulations.
Sturgeon County’s advance poll is at the Morinville Rendez-Vous Centre at 9913 104 St. in Morinville. The poll is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 12 and Oct. 14.
Returning officer Jesse Sopko said voters should expect hand sanitizer, safety barriers, and pre-sanitized pens at the polling station.
Sopko said county residents will get to vote for Senate nominees and on the two referendum questions at the advance poll, with Division 3 to 6 voters also picking a councillor (the other council positions were acclaimed).
Sturgeon County will have polling stations throughout the region on Oct. 18, including one at West Country Hearth. Residents of First Nations and Métis Settlements can vote in the Senate and referendum elections that day at the Rivière Qui Barre Arena. Visit sturgeoncounty.ca/election for times and locations.
Morinville’s polling station is in the main hall of the Community Cultural Centre, which is part of the province’s vaccine passport program, said returning officer Melodie Steele. Voters will not need proof of vaccination to vote but will need it to enter the centre for any other reason.
Steele said voters should expect to see hand sanitizer, physical barriers, and about 600 pre-sanitized black Sharpie markers on site. Voters will use those markers to pick a mayor, six councillors, up to three Senate candidates, and two referendum answers on their ballot. They will not vote for trustees, as the town’s trustee elections have been won by acclamation.
Morinville’s advance poll is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16, and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 13 and Oct. 14. The regular poll is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 18. Institutional voting stations will also be open Oct. 18 for Heritage Lodge and Aspen House residents.
Sturgeon Public parents who live in Ward 2 (Bon Accord/Legal) or Ward 7 (Gibbons/Lamoureux) will get to elect a trustee this month. Advance poll votes are at the Frank Robinson Education Centre in Morinville (9820-104 Street) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 8 and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 9. Check www.sturgeon.ab.ca/board/2021-board-elections/for-voters for poll locations on Oct. 18.
St. Albert Public parents can vote in their trustee election in advance at the St. Albert Community Hall, Servus Place, the University of Alberta, MacEwan University, Norquest College, and the Arden Theatre at the same time they cast their ballots for the St. Albert municipal election. See www.spschools.org/board_governance/elections2021 for details.
To vote in any of these elections, you must be 18 or older, a Canadian citizen, and a resident of the region where the election is taking place when you vote. You also need to prove your identity with either a piece of government-issued photo ID featuring your name and address, two pieces of ID from an approved list (one with your address, both with your name), or an authorized voter who can vouch for you.
County-area residents can request mail-in ballots if they are absent on election day, physically disabled, or employed as a poll worker. At-home voting assistance is also available. Contact your local returning officer for details.