THE five mayoral candidates fronted the public for a second time at last night’s Meet the Candidates event at the RB Smith Community Centre.
About 40 people attended to listen to the candidates talk about their vision for the city as well as statements from others seeking election Katrina Willis from the Queanbeyan Monaro Greens and young guns Kenrick Winchester and Brent Hunter.
The night was hosted by Member for Eden-Monaro Dr Mike Kelly. “This night is a thank you to the Queanbeyan City Council for choosing to hold a Meet the Candidates night in the lead up to the Federal elections,” he said.
This was the second Meet The Candidates Night after the Jerrabomberra Residents Association hosted one in August attended by about 50 people. The Queanbeyan City Council had been criticised for not organising their own event because they felt it was “inappropriate” to do so.
Incumbent Mayor Tim Overall said it appeared the audience was mostly made up of supporters, with community members making up a small percentage. This was similar to the council hosted event in 2008, with The Queanbeyan Age reporting at the time “About 60 people attended –about 40 candidates and 20 from the general public. Most members of the community were children, partners and spouses supporting the candidates.”
Despite this, the members who did attend were engaged in the Question and Answer section of the night. They asked questions about a timeframe for a cross-border transport system, putting aside personal issues to work together, the possibility of publishing pecuniary interest online, formats for community engagement and the Gale Precinct.
Community members also pressed the candidates to reinstate public question time.
Cr Overall defended the elimination of question time and said the public forum allowing the public five minutes to have their say was a better system.
“During meetings we used put aside time for question time, 15 minutes for the public to ask questions,” he said. “However, the reason we stopped it was because councillors were regularly receiving abuse from community members, councillors were caught off-guard. It was unfair and unproductive.”
Community members will take to the voting booths tomorrow Saturday, September from 8am - 6pm. Residents will be voting for a Mayor and nine councillors.