January 21st, 2018

Candidates make final plea to students

By Tim Kalinowski on October 13, 2017.

Candidate Collette Smithers speaks to Grade 6 students from George Davison School during an election forum at Dr. Roy Wilson Learning Centre. Mayoral candidates Ted Clugston, John Hamill, Thomas Fougere and Scott Raible, along with candidates for council and school board, were in attendance to take questions from elementary school students.--NEWS PHOTO EMMA BENNETT


tkalinowski@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNTimKal

All four of Medicine Hat’s mayoral candidates, most of council and most SD76 trustee candidates were on hand for an interactive and engaging candidates forum with about 200 Grade 6 students from across the city Thursday morning at Dr. Roy Wilson Learning Centre.

Candidates were given prepared questions from the students, who will be using their impressions of the candidates to inform their choices during their student vote day held today. Students were provided with a booklet of all candidates’ pictures and names with space to write down beside each one impressions for personal reference.

George Davidson School teacher Lacey Worth organized the forum for all schools in attendance.

“In Grade 6 we always have to teach the topic of local government, and this year has been the best year yet because it is actually applicable (with the election going on),” said Worth. “Today the students have been really engaged. It’s really great to see, and they have been equally excited the entire week. This is the highlight of our year so far.”

The highlight of the forum for many of the students was the presence of all four mayoral candidates — John Hamill, Ted Clugston, Thomas Fougere and Scott Raible — who each did their best to make a good impression on the youth.

Hamill used his grandfatherly charm and exotic Northern Ireland accent to good effect, Fougere came off as young and hip and Raible used his teaching experience and the fact he has nine kids to make an impression.

Clugston spoke to the kids in a direct way, making them laugh by explaining, “I am the incumbent mayor. That means I am mayor right now, and all these other guys are trying to take my job.” He went on to explain he was definitely interested in keeping his job, and hoped the kids would put in a good word with their parents.

In the crowd the students were drinking it all in, observing sharply and taking lots of notes as they jotted down their general impressions of the candidates rather than any specific answer given. The body language was telling as yawns and general inattentiveness followed long-winded or overly-complicated answers. While nods of heads and keen stares came when something a candidate said particularly resonated.

Dr. Ken Sauer School student Ella Hoffarth felt all the candidates represented themselves pretty well.

“I think they did a really good job presenting to this forum,” she said. “I was really cool to see what they wanted to change in the city and stuff like that. It was fun.”

Classmate Halle Cahoon praised the candidates for showing “what they stood for,” but the day left her still undecided on how she would vote Friday.

“I really don’t know who I will vote for,” she said. “I will honestly have to think about it a bit because they were all really good speakers, and I thought they did a really good job.”

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