With the by-election to replace Dick Michel, who stepped down from Weyburn City Council in March, fast approaching, the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce held an all-candidate forum Thursday morning to give the business community, and the public at large, a chance to ask some questions of the four men who are vying for the seat.
The four who were on the hot seat were Larry Heggs, Dana Pretzer, Trevor Tessier and Brandon Tichkowsky.
While the meeting itself was at a much earlier hour than most of the all-candidate forums that are held in Weyburn, it was fairly well-attended, both in person and via Zoom.
“Yes, it was kind of a bit of an inconvenient time for a lot of people to come but I appreciate all of those that did attend to come out and show that they are supportive of their city, their businesses, and who is running – they're obviously interested in what they have to say,” said the Chamber’s executive director, Monica Osborn, after the forum.
The questions that were asked by the members of the Chamber of Commerce were fairly directed towards a few key issues – what their goals are if elected as councillor, what some of the challenges facing small businesses in the community, how Weyburn can best attract medical professionals, what changes should be made to the Off-Site Development Levy and what are some of the streamlined processes that could be introduced during permitting and approvals.
With all four of the candidates coming in with experience in the community, they had well-prepared answers, with an emphasis on the growth of Weyburn, not just for the business community but in general. This included providing suggestions on how to assist newcomers to the community, looking at ways to eliminate the red tape that may be before the business community, and finding ways to get more investment and money into the community from the higher levels of government.
“I think everyone had great answers for the business community,” Osborn continued. “I mean, that is who the Chamber represents – our business community. So, you know, we wanted to make sure that they were answering some of our questions that came from our members first, and I think a lot of our members have gotten their answers that they were looking for and hoping that it can be represented on the city council.”
Of the questions that came from the general public, one that had all four candidates agree on the answer, for the most part, was whether they would run in the 2024 general election if they aren’t successful in the by-election. All of them said they would consider it, with Heggs and Pretzer most firmly stating they would run in the general election.
The Chamber of Commerce holds an all-candidate forum for all elections that are held in Weyburn, no matter the level of government. Osborn explained they are expecting to see an even busier year for the forums in 2024, with the possibility of a federal election, along with provincial and municipal elections.