Council pay was one of the topics discussed by Maple Ridge candidates at the Democracy Fair

Present Maple Ridge councillors skip Democracy Fair

The event drew 18 candidates to the Genstar theatre, where they set up displays, sold their goods and met voters.

Dana Lang brought a foosball game and a Strider bicycle, while Bob Goos brought some Santas made out of vegetable gourds to the silent auction to help pay for campaign costs.

The Maple Ridge candidates were also selling themselves Saturday at the Democracy Fair in the Arts Centre Theatre.

The event drew 18 candidates to the Genstar theatre, where they set up displays, sold their goods and met voters.

“The good thing is, people are face to face with you,” said first-time candidate Bob Goos.

And maybe that forces people to be more honest, he added.

Candidate Wendy Cook helped organize the event in an attempt to raise voter interest in the Nov. 19 Maple Ridge election.

The event, however, didn’t raise the interest of present members of council, who, with the exception of Mayor Ernie Daykin, skipped the event.

“I think it shows a little bit of arrogance,” said Carly O’Rourke, running in her second municipal campaign.

“And a lot of people have noticed that.”

It’s up to the candidates as to whether they want to show up, added Candace Gordon, a former councillor seeking another term.

“They’re [incumbents] confident that they’re a known quantity and there’s an element of truth in that.”

O’Rourke pointed out only first-term councillors Mike Morden and Cheryl Ashlie voted against the 13-per-cent council salary increase last summer and said the other incumbents may have a sense of entitlement. Maybe there should be limit on the number of terms a councillor can sit, she added.

The fair was the first political venture for Dana Lang, who had always wanted to run and decided this was the time to do it. She had collected bids totalling $65 for the toys she was selling, enough to pay the $50 fee for the day.

She disagreed with council’s latest raise. “I’d like to see a 10-per-cent roll back.

“We need to learn how to do more with less.”

Mayoralty challenger Craig Ruthven was also at a table. “We had many different people from different walks of life.”

Coun. Craig Speirs would have gone if he had the time and said he heard the turnout wasn’t that good, and that it was “just a bunch of wanna-be politicians talking to each other.”

Cook, though, said that 309 members of the public showed up to talk to 13 municipal candidates, two mayoralty candidates and five school board candidates.

“You can’t make those comments when you didn’t even show up.”

Coun. Al Hogarth said it wasn’t high on his to-do list “because another candidate was involved in organizing it.

“It wasn’t a bad idea, but it should be done by an independent body.”

Cook said one result of the day was that three candidates – Peter Tam, Jacques Blackstone and Cook – formed a group to bring a fine arts school to Maple Ridge.

With each candidate paying $50 each, the fees barely covered the $900 paid to rent the theatre and pay for the staffing. The Peace Twig Fundraising Society booked the ACT and managed the fees, and Cook said  she paid for her own table space.

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