The Greenwood Board of Trade will take a second look at its controversial decision not to stage an all-candidates’ forum ahead of October’s byelection after several complaints by upset residents.
President Martin Huhn told The Gazette Wednesday morning, Sept. 16, that he will call an executive meeting to be held Wednesday evening, when he said the board will decide the logistics of hosting a forum.
Huhn said the board decided not to hold one after conferring digitally Sunday night, Sept. 13. He said the decision came down to COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings and the fact that candidate forums aren’t strictly necessary in city byelections.
He added that he had approached Grand Forks mayor, Brian Taylor, and Midway mayor, Martin Fromme, about moderating some kind of a forum before election day, Oct. 10. Huhn said he never wanted to forego a forum.
“With COVID changing the world, some decisions are made more quickly than in regular times, before the pandemic.”
Huhn explained that board vice president Hendrik van Wyk was informed before the meeting that he couldn’t be a party to the decision because van Wyk is running for a council seat in the election.
The president said he’d erred when he partly attributed the decision to City Hall’s advice in a post he made to the board’s Facebook page Monday morning, Sept. 14. It was the board of trade’s decision not to hold an all-candidates’ forum, he confirmed.
Chief Administrative Officer Wendy Higashi told The Gazette she’d had an informal conversation with Huhn weeks ago about possible alternatives to a conventional forum. The City of Greenwood has never officially advised the board about candidate forums, she said.
Huhn said the board would announce via Facebook Wednesday night whether or not it will host a forum.
The byelection was triggered by former Greenwood mayor Ed Smith’s resignation in March. Councillor Gerry Shaw then resigned his seat to enter the mayoral race.
Carolina Hopkins and Barry Noll are also running for mayor.
Charlene Izuka, Mark Seymour and Hendrik van Wyk are running to fill Shaw’s seat on council.