ElectionFest brings Winnipeg voters, civic candidates together
Event was 'kind of like the in-person version of Twitter,' says voter
With Winnipeggers one month away from electing the city's next mayor, councillors and school trustees, hundreds of people got to chat one-on-one with the candidates at an event Monday night.
Approximately 400 people came out for ElectionFest 2014, which was presented by Metro Winnipeg, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and the RBC Convention Centre.
The event had no speeches, debates or moderators.
It was more like speed dating for voters, with more than 50 candidates — including all seven mayoral hopefuls — standing by tables, ready to talk to anyone who wanted to talk to them.
"It's kind of like the in-person version of Twitter. You're not subject to 140 characters and basically it's [an] unedited, raw, uncanned time of thing," said Gregory Liverpool, who attended the event.
Said David Sanders, one of the candidates for mayor, "It is an opportunity to come knocking on our doors and to ask us whatever questions they have in mind, and have a chance to talk to people with some length if they're interested."
Wide range of questions
The biggest lineups were for the mayoral candidates, and people brought a wide range of questions for them.
"As a 33-year-old, what can you tell me to get out to vote?" asked Rex Masesar.
Sim Pannu had questions about crime and "what they plan on doing to promote restorative justice at the community level."
Said Monica Davis, "Immigrants face many challenges when starting new businesses here, and I [was] wondering … if they want to plan something."
Elisha Dacey of Metro Winnipeg said ElectionFest 2014 was designed to bring voters closer to the candidates.
"You can go to their Twitter feed, you can go to their social media pages, but talking to someone face-to-face makes a big difference in terms of impression — how honest do you feel that person is," she said.
The mayoral hopefuls agreed that the event gave them a good chance to talk to many voters.
"Good questions from people, good depth and pretty well-informed, it seems to me," said Gord Steeves.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis said the candidates take part in many debates "but they're not conducive to a lot of participation because there's so many candidates and you're all cramming in everything all at once."
Brian Bowman said he was "also thrilled to be able to meet with council candidates … many of us haven't had a chance to meet everybody yet."
Winnipeggers go to the polls on Oct. 22.
With files from the CBC's Lindsay Tsuji