Clarke's Beach resident chimes in on candidate meet-and-greet

Bill
Bill Westcott
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Residents of Clarke's Beach were invited to the town hall last Sept.17 for what was billed as a "meet and greet" your candidates for the upcoming municipal election.

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Residents of Clarke's Beach were invited to the town hall last Sept.17 for what was billed as a "meet and greet" your candidates for the upcoming municipal election.

Appreciating the work that went into arranging such an event and curious as to what issues would be raised, my wife and I made a special effort to attend.

A goodly number of residents of the town turned out as the hall was nearly full to capacity. Organizers were quite pleased with the obvious interest shown by a fair cross-section of the residents.

For me, the event was a good experience and a disappointment as well.

Out of the 25 candidates running, 17 turned out to answer questions and present their platform for election or re-election.

The big surprise to me and most of those in attendance was the fact that four of the six incumbents — Kevin Hussey, Roland Andrews, Winston Vokey and Gary Bendell — were not in attendance to answer the call from forum host Terry Roberts when invited to speak.

I was equally surprised that Frank Evely Sr., a regular critic of the current council and author of several stinging letters to the editor published in this paper, was also a no-show.

From my recollection only one candidate who could not make it, sent an apology which was read out by the forum host. As far as I am concerned, all those who could not make it for reasons best known to themselves, should have had the courtesy to do likewise.

It is widely known that the Town of Clarke's Beach has a wide reputation as a "dysfunctional town." This regretful state of affairs is so serious that it was reported in the national magazine Macleans, and on the CBC's Here and Now. I heard about it while on winter vacation in Florida.

What also astounded me was the fact that on the very same day five of the incumbents distributed a four-page circular titled, "To Residents of Clarke's Beach — factual information for voters to ponder."

Endorsed by councillors Eldon Snow, Garry Bendall, Winston Vokey, Roland Andrews and Deputy Mayor Kevin Hussey, the circular (I got mine at the post office) was intended to set the record straight about, "an awful amount of inaccurate information and downright lies about the present council."

It also stipulated that, "Any councillor's name not included (on the circular) is by their own choice. All councillors were made aware of this document."

No less than 25 questions about activities over the past four years including: the widely-reported story about Clarke's Beach being "a dysfunctional town," is the town bankrupt, disputed expenditures about acquisitions and plans for future development of this rapidly-growing and popular place to build homes and to continue to live and raise families, were addressed, some in detail.

What I can't figure out is why these no-show incumbents did not have the political decency to turn up for the town hall meet and greet, where there was ample time to mingle and discuss their views directly to the people they represent and whom they are asking for their re-election support.

There may be valid reasons for this game that is being played, but one way or the other the facts resulting in all the turmoil, all the arguments in public and in the press, and the depressing feeling about current council is leading to chatter on the streets and in social get-togethers that we need a "whole new slate on council this time."

One has to wonder as well, what the views of any member of the current council about current affairs would be IF they were not serving on our town council?

I would assume, they would be the same as mine and of many others.

I was very impressed by a number of the new candidates that have come forth to offer themselves to serve. In particular, I like the vast business experiences and professional careers some of them have to offer.

In my view, we are fortunate that these men and women are available to steer the course into a whole new term of office and whole new era.

I looked up the definition of the slogan, courage of one's convictions. It says, "to act in accordance with one's beliefs, especially in spite of criticism."

From my viewpoint, the no-shows from Clarke's Beach missed the boat last Tuesday evening and will perhaps suffer the consequences on polling day.

— Bill Westcott writes from Clarke's Beach

Organizations: CBC

Geographic location: Florida

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