All four candidates for Kingston mayor gathered at Bayridge Secondary School Wednesday morning to participate in the city’s only in-person mayoral debate of the municipal election.
“It’s hard to get your voice heard, especially as a newer candidate,” says Skyler McArthur-O’Blenes, one of the candidates running for mayor.
“It’s hard to get to every door, and I know I haven’t gotten to every door. So opportunities like this, it’s great, because we can all have a shared space where questions can be asked equally, and we can all, you know, do our best to answer.”
“Being able to do an in-person debate, hear the questions from the students, it was really exciting to me to see the number of students engaged,” adds incumbent mayor, Bryan Paterson.
“They were interested in the local issues that we’re seeing as a city.”
After a series of questions posed by the Bayridge student panel, the floor was opened up to students who asked about the drug poisoning crisis, mental health resources and sex trafficking issues, to name a few.
“What was particularly important is that, you know, you have all these students here, but there’s not a lot of engagement with the municipal politics,” says Ethan Smith, a grade 12 student.
Smith was a member of the panel asking questions to the candidates, which is something he wants to see more of.
“You know, this is the next generation of voters,” he says.
“Municipal politics, if anything, is the most influential. So yeah, definitely bringing that back was very important for us.”
“I’m grateful to be able to talk to young people, high school students, because, you know they are the future,” says Ivan Stoiljkovic, one of the mayoral candidates. “But really, they are important.”
Bayridge students will be holding a mock election on Thursday, casting their ballots for mayor.
As for those currently eligible to vote, advanced polling has begun and ballot casting will continue until Election Day.