Issues discussed at Old Massett all-candidates forum

  • Nov. 26, 2008 10:00 a.m.

submitted by Beryl Park-Sunday, November 23 at 7 pm the Old Massett Village All Candidates Forum was hosted by representatives from the Council of the Haida Nation at the community hall in Old Massett. Cynthia Samuels stepped forward to organize the evening and asked Beryl Parke to facilitate the forum. Both women are Massett representatives on the Council of the Haida Nation. Nominations closed at 4:30 on November 21 for the Band Custom Elections for Old Massett. Nominated for Councillor Positions for Old Massett are: Cecil M., Brown, Alfred Davidson III, Hope Setso, David Smith and Judy Williams. Each hopes to fill one of the three positions up for election. The forum presented for the nominees an audience to speak about their platforms. It also offered an opportunity for the candidates to speak to challenging questions put forward by the thirteen community members who came out. And it provided citizens a chance to speak to their concerns about the present community issues that impact all. The evening started off respectfully with a prayer. The candidates present for the event were David Smith, Judy Williams and Alfred Davidson III. Regrets were forwarded by Hope Setso and Cecile M. Brown. The three candidates who were able to attend spoke to the community members about what is behind their reason for wanting to fill a position as a councillor for Old Massett Village Council. David Smith has experience in politics and would like to get back into public life for three reasons. He wants to find ways to have SMRFA funds used more effectively for the community. He indicated it was the Haida people who fought hard on the line to stop the logging for South Moresby and he’d like to find out how the funds can be utilized for the community. David cited concerns for the Elders’ housing, and talked about how he’d like to work at accessing greatly needed funding for community development.Judy Williams has devoted well over 12 years of her life to being a politician for her community. Her passion is with the health and welfare of her people. She indicated even though she didn’t run in the last election, she has continued to support her people. She reported that community members have continued to come to her for help and she has told them how they can access services. Judy would like to be proactive rather than reactive. She envisions bringing a “solution based approach” to her leadership on council if elected. Judy has spent several years working as a board member for Haida Child and Family Services Society. She continues to be committed to working with children, as well she expressed her desire to find ways to support Haida women coming out of abusive relationships. Judy indicated she’s passionate about her role as a community worker and wants to continue to offer this support whether elected for council or not. Alfred Davidson III has had prior experience on council although not as many years as the other candidates. Alfred indicated a strong desire to find a way to have a rec centre for the youth. He expressed concern for the youth who have little or no facilities and programs to keep them involved in healthy activities. He cited concern for the youth who are now spending free time hanging around on the streets. Alfred spoke of his worry for the safety of the children. He’d like to see programs that offer youth information and training on how to be safe, such as a simple thing of wearing reflective clothing when out walking at night. Alfred also spoke of his concern for the need for economic development for the community. Regrets were put forward by Hope Setso for not being present. She is currently on council and off Island on business pertaining to the health for the community. She did forward a handout that was read out to the citizens. Hope talked about the successes the council has had. Hope indicated that with a team approach, the council’s been able to come out of remedial management and once again have a zero deficit budget. She spoke of the success of current council in achieving the renovations on the community hall. Cecile M. Brown could not make the All Candidates as he was coming back from an event for his basketball team. Cecile’s work with his team kept him away, however is reflective of his commitment to the youth for Old Massett. The citizens who attended wanted to know from the candidates what they could do about the role of the Economic Development Office with community development; what is their vision for council; what would they do about a mandate for council; how could they as councillors improve the reporting to citizens; how could they make some of the staff positions contractual so opportunity could be had to evaluate productivity; what can you do for the youth in the community; what would you do around putting back into practice more community social functions; how would you in your position as councillor address the lack of Haida representation on Delmas Coop board, and how can you address high costs of groceries on island; what would you do around the drug problems; what would you do to address the housing problems for elders; how could you as a councillor improve health services for elders; what will you do to see a Health Administrator and social worker hired for Old Massett? All candidates had a chance to respond; listed are only some of their responses. Judy Williams spoke in support of the idea of more public meetings. She said reporting out, “Eliminates doubts or lack of trust of leadership.” She cited that “I will take this to the table if elected.” With economic development, Judy would like to see how something like “Winter Works” could be brought back and gave an example whereby citizens who need EI hours could be repairing roads that are used by citizens to go food gathering. David Smith indicated with Economic Development “we have to gather information on what the community wants.” David would like to see everyone working together for a “thriving community.” David would like to see a Health Administrator hired. He also would like to find ways to make the community hall more accessible to the youth. He said, “Haida people have fun together and would like to see more of this take place with the hall used for this type of activity.” Alfred Davidson III indicated he’d like to see youth coming out to the community hall to participate in activities such as learning self defence or playing volleyball. Alfred indicated he’d like to see youth doing more at the hall on more regular basis and not just when potlatches. He suggested having more shows for youth. Alfred indicated grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and the whole community have to step together with the council to make a difference for our youth. For two hours, the candidates answered questions. Each answer demonstrated their commitment to their fellow citizens. Each candidate commented on the need for more services for the elders. It was noted by the candidates that more outreach is needed by health workers for the elders. All candidates expressed concern for the need for elders to receive housing renovations in a timelier manner. Despite the small turnout, a multitude of interests were covered. Each candidate expressed a strong interest in areas of concern with the youth, youth facilities, elders, lack of services for elders; as well each nominee recognized the need for more communication and accountability back to the people if elected. Old Massett Village polling stations are open for Advance Poll on November 24, and Regular Poll on December 1. The polling stations are at Haida Health Centre from 10 am to 8pm. All people registered on the Old Massett Band list and eighteen years old on November 24 will be eligible to vote.