Monday night the community was invited to participate in an all candidates forum at the Morden 55+ Activity Centre, with the seven council candidates taking the stage to share their vision for the city if elected. The evening was organized and hosted by the Morden Chamber of Commerce. There are two council seats available in the upcoming by-election being held December 20th. 

It was estimated about 350 people attended the all candidates forum. Questions over the course of the night touched on a number of topics, including; preparation candidates have done for the role and availability to serve, Immigration retention and supporting new immigration initiatives,
healthcare, taxation and services and business support.

All unanswered questions will be compiled and sent to each candidate to answer on their respective platforms.

Early voting is December 7th at Morden Civic Centre, with election day December 20th at St Paul’s United Church.

Below you will find the opening statements from each candidate, as they presented to the crowd in attendance:

Brenda Klassen
Good evening, fellow Mordenites. I am Brenda Klassen, and I want to thank you for choosing the City of Morden, choosing to be here this evening and choosing to call Morden home.

I am honoured to be a part of such a diverse community of concerned and involved citizens. We all have a different story about why we are here. Maybe Morden is your home because you were born and raised here. Maybe a job brought you here. Maybe you came here to start over, or perhaps to start up a small business. Maybe you are new to the country and came through an immigration program. Maybe you came because you wanted the lifestyle and amenities a small city can offer. Maybe like my husband Ken and I, you wanted to raise your young family in a safe and welcoming community with so much green space. For us, that was almost 30 years ago, and we've never looked back. We've raised our four children here and are helping raise our adoptive grandchildren in this community. I am passionate about keeping Morden healthy and thriving for this generation and beyond,

So what can you expect from me as your city councillor? Advocacy, efficiency, and transparency. Advocacy is something I have practiced my whole life, throughout my 35 year nursing career for clients, on parent advisory councils, on behalf of students, staff and parents, and as a founding and current member of Many Hands Resource Center, to name a few."

As a councillor, a few things are priority for me. I will advocate for the recruitment of more business to increase our tax base and provide employment opportunities. I will advocate for solutions to our current daycare crisis or shortage. I will advocate for ways to support the increase in staffing that is needed at the Boundary Trails Health Centre. I will advocate for the prospect of permanent local post secondary training here in Morden so we can train our students at home. 

You can also expect efficiency. I know that efficiency will be vital to removing hurdles in the current wastewater project, which is so crucial for any future city development. Efficiency can also mean working with regional partnerships to achieve more and faster. I think an excellent example of this is the growing need for public transportation in our communities. 

And lastly, you can expect transparency. Clear communication within Council and transparency to you, the citizens of Morden is essential to creating trust and good governance in a respectful and helpful manner.

I promise to listen, and to advocate for all members of our community to work efficiently and transparently as a Council member. I am Brenda Klassen, and I am asking for your vote on City Council. 

Darlene Wiebe
Hi, my name is Darlene Wiebe. I want to thank you all for coming and I'm looking forward to some of the questions that I'll be getting. A little nervous too, But I'm running for counselor because my husband encouraged me to. It was actually the start. 

I have been a stay at home mom for the last 16 years, and as our daughter is getting older and more independent, I'm having a little more spare time on my hands. 

In the past, I've been involved in various leadership positions, from small study groups, to sitting on leadership boards, and volunteering at places like the Pregnancy Crisis Centre.

Being a stay at home mom in a single income home for the past 16 years has given me a different perspective on life, than perhaps a business oriented person might have on what is important to the blue collar workers. I'm very good at asking questions, and this would help bring a well-rounded perspective to the discussion table. 

I want to live in a community that includes all of its citizens, and puts them first when making decisions on the practical, everyday needs.we all have, focusing on things we have in common, and the things we share. 

I recently heard a quote made by John F Kennedy when he visited Canada, very short, I think, was his first visit after he was elected. But, I thought. a part of it was definitely very true about any community you will ever go to. It says 'geography made us neighbors. Necessity has made us allies. I'm choosing to focus on what unites us, because when we look at things that we have in common, we will move. forward unified. Differences are part of life, but when we focus on those, that only divides and sets the community back.' 

I am well able to respect everyone that calls Morden home, regardless of what faith, ethnicity, ethnicity, or group they align with. Because I believe everyone is important, I believe that regardless of where we come from, we all have the same needs because we're all human. 

I'm looking forward to serving you on Council if I get voted in to help move towards bettering the things that we share in common. Our roads, parking downtown, the water and sewage, and helping businesses move into more than and making it a a safe place for families to come and live, regardless of whether we are a city or a. small town. Thank you. 

Megan Giesbrecht
Hi, my name is Megan Giesbrecht, and I was born and raised in Winkler. 

Four years ago, after living in Winnipeg for a few years, I moved to Morden for its small town charm and beauty. 

I opened a spa, Frank and Olive in Winkler shortly after, and have spent the last three years using Frank and Olive to help support the community in various ways. 

Fundraisers for Genesis House and the Pembina Valley Humane Society, sponsoring and coaching minor athletics teams, apparel supporting Pembina Valley Pride, and the South Central Regional Library, sexual health education and initiatives through our wellness platform, Femme Featuring, are just a few of the things that we've tried to do. 

I'm so excited to see all of you that have come out today to participate in the candidates forum. My only goal when running for Council is to see you get involved. 

Throughout countless conversations over the last few years, the common theme has been a desire to see someone who represents a different demographic of citizen. The women, the LGBTQ plus, the newcomers, and the differently abled. There's something to be said about the wisdom that comes with age and experience, but I don't think that we should discount the passion, energy, and innovation that. comes with youth. Whether I have a seat at this table is up to you, and I'm willing if you want me. 

Tracey Krause
Good evening, friends and neighbors. Wow, it's so good to see so many of you out tonight. I was born and raised here, in Morden, and grew up watching my parents volunteer, and give back to the community. After I graduated from MCI, I went on to the University of Manitoba where I got a Masters degree in accounting and finance. I started working for Deloitte and Touche, now called just Deloitte, and became a chartered accountant, and ended up living and working all over the world, before settling back here in Morden with my husband Rob and our two kids. Both my kids also graduated from MCI. 

Right now, I run a small fair trade business working with indigenous women from Ecuador. This job leaves me with sufficient spare time and flexibility to be able to devote to Council matters. I've been attending council meetings over the last couple of months, and I believe that my business and decision making skills would be put to good use on Council.  I have a deep passion for helping and building community, evidenced by my years working for Many Hands here in Morden, and my past involvement is the Director of Finance for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, as well as board positions on a large scholarship fund and on Adoption Options in Winnipeg. 

As a councillor, I would aim to be a voice for the most vulnerable among us, including those struggling with poverty, mental health and physical health issues, as well as those struggling to feel accepted and included. There's a couple of key issues that I have a special interest in. These are growth and affordable housing. When I was running the the food bank here in Morden, I saw so many people who were looking for affordable housing here in Morden. I would like to see what the city of Morden can do to get Manitoba Housing units under our control. I would also like to see that lower cost units to rent, and to buy, are considered as part of future developments. 

Another issue is the ongoing growth of Morden. I don't want Morden to become a bedroom community of our fast growing neighbour. We need to finalize those issues that are preventing growth here in Morden, such as the issues around wastewater and access to more fresh water. I'm very interested in helping the city identify and attract industries, stores and services that will help us to develop an appropriate tax base and give high quality jobs to our workforce and our youth. Vote for me and I will serve with professionalism, dedication and pride as we move forward as a community. 

Dave Hildebrand 
Council members, I'm very encouraged by the crowd that's here tonight that you care about our community, and you want to know what we're going to do about it. 

I was born and raised in Morden. Dad worked different jobs, so we ended up living in northern B.C, different parts of Alberta, but when we came back to Morden I knew, this was home. I'd have business opportunities to work elsewhere, but I I chose to stay here. This is my hometown. I raised my children here. They graduated here, as well. My son runs a business in town as well, very successful. My daughter lives nearby. She brings my grandsons by here often. This is still home. 

With my business experience, I went from being a carpenter to general contractor, and due to injuries, I had to become a developer, because I couldn't do the physical work anymore. I chose to become a developer. I have 25 years of experience in laying sewer, water infrastructure. And I'm not up here to say that I want to start more programs, which I'm not saying are bad. I want to get in here to save you money by doing projects the way we used to do them, so that our infrastructure lasts longer. We are seeing such a high turnover, and it's costing you, the taxpayer, a fortune. 

I had our house up for sale five months ago, six months ago, because what I saw really aggravated me, and I couldn't stand to see it day after day. Then one day, with a little bit of a nudging from a neighbour and a few other people, I put my name in, and the sign came down. 

Morden is worth fighting for. We don't want to lose out to Winkler. We have a lot to offer, and I want to help promote that, but my first responsibility is cost savings and quality. It is possible. The trades school we have going here, and that's awesome. If we could expand that, there is such a shortage of tradesmen throughout Canada. Any assistance the town can give them, more power to them. 

I'm very used to working with numerous people at any given time. I always have my cell phone with me. I don't take calls, but I take texts, and I respond any given day, I drive the whole town, with my dog in the back seat, and we check things out and I will respond to you. 

Chris Abrams 
Welcome everybody. This is my second run for for Council. It should be easier, but I'm still not that good of a public speaker. 

The reason I decided to run, I've had many people tell me about the lack of communications on projects that affect them, and I want to serve Morden and make a difference. My goals are, even though we know wastewater is supposed to be coming, I don't want it to be an election issue again next time. It is an issue until shovels are on the ground and it's built. The drought we had showed us that we need access to potable water, that we have outgrown our lake and it just does not meet our needs. 

Of course, there's always the issue with infrastructure and traffic control. Search for ways to address public transportation, accessibility and affordable housing and improve communication between Council and the public. I'd also like to explore opportunities to engage youth and young adults. 

Given my job as a waste hauler, I always strive to find ways to make things greener, and this would be no different. My previous experience, well, I've been 15 years with three different companies that have acquired each other. But before that I ran my own business for six years with 22 employees, which gave me a good founding for finance/budgets. 

I'm creative person who looks at things differently, and can think outside the box. I'm not afraid to step outside my comfort zone and try new tasks or learn new things. I have a compassion for others, and I want to be a voice for the underserved residents of Morden. 

I've been in Morden for 30 years. I've raised helped raise my three kids here. We have 7 great grandkids. I'm very passionate about my community, it leads me to donate my time and money and effort towards children, and families that are underprivileged. I really enjoy my time at Many Hands running their craft nights and LEGO nights. Thank you for your time. 

Allan Spearman 
I was born and raised in the farm in the Crystal City area. In 1994, I applied for a job with the City of Morden and started with the Rec Center. I was there for 2 1/2 years, and then I had a chance to transfer to the water treatment plant, which I did, and I was there for 26 years, 18 of those years serving as the foreman out there. I retired earlier this year, just shy of the 29 year mark.  I still have a keen interest in how the city of Morden is doing, and that's when this opening came for Council, I decided I'd run for it. 

I feel that the key issues facing the city right now are infrastructure projects. The city has experienced rapid growth and expansion over the years, and the challenge for the city is to keep the infrastructure in place ahead of time, so they can continue this growth and not slow down. The main one is the water sewage plant. Town's been working on that for numerous years, and they're very close to putting that into service. The water supply, which has been mentioned numerous times, Lake Minnewasta, our supply, has served us well over the years, but the drought proved that it is a wake up call, and we need to find an alternate source source. We may have to look for well water, or maybe look at putting a new reservoir in. That'll come with time too. The water plant has reached its service life, and it's in dire need of replacement, or either it could fail on us. So it's another major project. 

The industrial park expansion, we definitely need that. We need to get more business into town and get more tax base and create more jobs. So the list this goes on and on. There's lots of other things we need to look at, but I feel that my experience working these years with the town, and with the water service and stuff, I can be an asset to Council, and help them proceed and work their way through some of these major projects.

I feel, if I'm elected to council, I would, well, a lot of these projects started when I was still working in the water plant, but I still have an interest in moving them forward, as well. I feel, if I can get elected to Council, that would help me to put my input and my experience to work again, and maybe move these projects forward with the city of Morden, and. I'd like to say thank you.

You can listen to the council candidate's opening statements, below.

- With files from Pam Fedack -

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