Mayor Stephen Mandel was booed and heckled Thursday night at the first of two mayoral forums for the October 18th civic election.
The other candidates running for mayor also took shots at Mandel, who is running for his third term as Edmonton mayor, for spending on the Art Gallery of Alberta, his support for the Expo 2017 bid, and the closure of City Centre Airport.
"You would never know that this is a democratic country or indeed, a democratic city the way that city hall has treated you lately," candidate David Dorward said in a statement that prompted cheering from the crowd who packed the auditorium at Harry Ainlay High School.
Envision Edmonton is targeting Mandel and the other councillors who voted against holding a plebiscite on the future of the airport after the group's petition was ruled invalid. Dorward was endorsed by the group after he entered the mayoral race earlier this month.
The crowd of 350 booed and sometimes interrupted Mandel when he tried to explain his position on a number of issues, including the airport.
Mandel's supporters cheered loudly to drown out the heckling and he stood his ground on the airport question.
"I can ask you and it's a rhetorical question whether or not you talked about or revealed to the people who signed the petition that in fact the petition you started was a year too late and that's about democracy," Mandel said.
Dorward wasn't the only candidate who attacked Mandel on the airport issue.
"Last election, the mayoral race was won with 98 thousand votes ... interesting number," said Dan Dromarsky. "How many signatures did we receive that wanted people to make a choice for an airport?"
"This airport issue, the tax increases we've had, the horrid conditions of the roads in winter -- you can't blame Mr. Mandel for that," candidate Dave Dowling told the crowd. "You've got to blame yourself. You voted these people in."
Daryl Bonar, Bob Ligertwood and Andrew Linekar are also running for mayor.
The next mayors' forum is scheduled for October 14th.