Monday night the community was invited to participate in an all candidates forum at the Morden 55+ Activity Centre, with the two mayoral candidates taking the stage to share their vision for the city, if elected, December 20th. The evening was organized and hosted by the Morden Chamber of Commerce.

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:

Nicholas Hoeppner
Good evening, Morden. As you know, my name is Nicholas Heppner. It's nice to meet all of you. In Greek, as they say, Kalispera. Good evening. I don't know what I'm supposed to be saying exactly, but I'm running for mayor, as all of you, or most of you know, so that I can get the younger generation involved as we have another candidate running as councillor, who is around the same age as me, so that's good to see you. Hopefully we can get the younger people involved, and get more people involved this year in voting as everyone's opinions and votes matter. 

There's a great quote from Keelone of Sparta that is, "If you confer a benefit, never remember it. If you receive a benefit, never forget it." And to those of you who have opened your door to me, and have respectfully allowed me in your home, I can never repay you for that, but I just want you to know you have my deepest gratitude. 

I hope if I win, or Nancy wins, that Morden will see a prosperous future, and we'll be able to grow as a community, and get it together as a community more than they ever have than now. I don't really have much else to say right now."

Nancy Penner
Madam Moderator, members of the audience and fellow candidates, there's no getting around it, we are growing community. We must have a strong mayor, a strong council who have a vision for the future. Many decisions we make today will be decisions that will have long term implications that need to ensure that our growth is sustainable and will meet our needs 15 to 20 years down the road from improving infrastructure to advocating for our city on a regional level, I'm dedicated to leading this city into the future. 

I have a deep understanding of the issues facing our city. With five years of council, I understand the need for our wastewater upgrades, our need to source more potable water. We've already expanded our industrial park to make room for existing industry to grow to attract new industry. I'm listening to the community. We are expanding our recreation opportunities for our youth. We are expanding daycare spaces. We're looking for a permanent home for our community gardens and our seniors need a voice. 

At the same time, we need to maintain our aging roads to maintain and repair our water and sewer lines. Fiscal responsibility is a high priority, as municipalities must run balanced budgets. I will lobby government to ensure infrastructure funding is available for projects beyond our financial capacity. 

This past June, I was elected to a second two year term as Central District director with the Association of Manitoba Municipalities. AMM is currently lobbying the province to end the municipal operating funding freeze to municipalities. Municipalities need a multi year predictable funding model with a built in escalator. Our only other option is to either increase taxes or cut our services. 

I will work hard to build relationships and to be a regional collaborator. This will include working not only with Winkler and Stanley, but with the other municipalities that make up the Pembina Valley. 

I want to be a mayor of a city where residents feel safe, socially connected. And included. I will also be a mayor that will listen. I know I won't please everyone, but I will always engage in respectful dialogue. It would be an honour and a privilege to be your next mayor. 

You can listen to the opening statements of Hoeppner and Penner, below.

- With files from Pam Fedack - 

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