Mayoral race begins to draw to a close

Candidates discuss opening a new book on town-gown relations at AMS-hosted debate

From left: Rick Downes, Scott Foster, Dorothy Hector, Bryan Paterson and Brenda Slomka. The sixth candidate, Michael J. M. Owen, was absent.
From left: Rick Downes, Scott Foster, Dorothy Hector, Bryan Paterson and Brenda Slomka. The sixth candidate, Michael J. M. Owen, was absent.
Photo: 
Rick Downes.
Rick Downes.
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Scott Foster.
Scott Foster.
Photo: 
Dorothy Hector.
Dorothy Hector.
Photo: 
Bryan Paterson.
Bryan Paterson.
Photo: 
Brenda Slomka.
Brenda Slomka.
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Wallace Hall.
Wallace Hall.
Photo: 

Five of Kingston’s six mayoral candidates discussed talent retention, town-gown relations and housing development during a forum on Tuesday night, held in Wallace Hall and hosted by the AMS.

AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Ariel Aguilar moderated the forum, which he said was “part of a larger strategy for the AMS to engage students and promote voting in the municipal election,” which will take place on Oct. 27.

Mayoral candidates Rick Downes, Scott Foster, Dorothy Hector, Bryan Paterson and Brenda Slomka each began with a three-minute introduction before answering three predetermined questions posed by Aguilar.

Michael J. M. Owen wasn’t present at the forum.

Last year’s district boundary redistribution discussion, which would have seen Sydenham District dissolved, was raised by candidates in response to a question asking them to assess current town-gown relations and discuss their contribution to related initiatives or efforts.

Slomka said considering students as part of the community — regardless of how long they’re in Kingston — should be a “core value”.

“I really don’t care what every municipality, how they count people, when there’s an opportunity for us to say: we’re going to set a standard, we’re going to say that this is the way that we see our students and this is the way we’re going to count them,” Slomka said.

“We’re going to set a standard so other municipalities can say, ‘hey, look what Kingston just did’.”

Downes said democracy is a “great leveler,” adding that he thinks this is a foundation of his campaign.

“I strongly believe if we cultivate a sense of looking out at every single person who lives in Kingston as our equals … that’s an important step in moving forward to cultivating a relationship between town-gown, university, other institutions, as one that’s based on respect,” he said.

Instead of making partnerships with Queen’s or Queen’s students, Foster said, students should be respected as fellow citizens and residents of Kingston.

“You don’t change a university just by turning around and changing the street signs to read ‘University District’. That to me is cheap,” he said.

“It’s time to change the attitude and pop the bubble between Queen’s and the community.”

Paterson and Hector both took issue with the argument that students shouldn’t be counted because “they don’t vote”.

“The issue is equity, and when the boundary issue came to Council, at no time did I argue anything at Council other than the issues of equity,” Hector said.

Paterson said one of the issues in discussing redistribution of boundaries was fairness, pointing to the presence of other temporary residents in Kingston, such as members of the military.

“It became an issue that some of us were struggling with to say, ‘well, if we choose to treat students differently but we’re not treating these other temporary residents in the same way, then is that being equal as well?’” Paterson said.

Support for Kingston’s LGBTQ community, the 663 Princess St. fire, daycare and real estate were question topics posed to all candidates by audience members during the second half of the forum.

The only questions addressed to a single candidate were posed to Paterson, in regards to the Third Day Worship Centre in Kingston and videos of Paterson preaching that have recently been circulated online.

“Are you a pastor at the Third Day Worship Centre and if so, does that mean that you believe it’s your mission to raise the standard of righteousness in Canada?” one person asked.

Paterson said he isn’t a pastor at the Worship Centre, adding that he preferred not to comment on his theology due to his belief in the separation of church and state.

“I think that people should be judged based on their policies, on their vision, and what their role and how they’re going to lead the City,” he said.

In regards to the videos, Paterson said he didn’t “put them up” or “take them down,” adding, “You’ll have to ask the organization that did.”

“But I would guess that, like most churches, they probably want to stay out of politics,” he added.

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