You’ve heard of Art in the Park. Now get ready for the political offshoot.
“It’s Art in the Park, and the artists are the candidates – that’s essentially how I’ve set it up,” said Caleb MacKinnon, who’s organizing three ‘all-candidates fairs’ at local parks next month, ahead of the upcoming municipal election.
With cooperation from the City and partnership with the Inn of the Good Shepherd and the Sarnia-Lambton Building and Construction Trades Council, the events will offer a venue for candidates to meet face-to-face with the public.
“We’re just working to provide a space for candidates to come together, and an opportunity for the community to go and see them,” he said. “One in the north, one in the south, and one in the Grove.”
The three events are scheduled for Sept. 24, 25, and 26, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Newton Park, Tecumseh Park and Mike Weir Park, respectively.
Each candidate that registers – mayoral, city council, city-county council and school board trustee – will receive a small plot, with locations decided at random.
MacKinnon, a long-time educator, activist, and self-admitted ‘political junkie’ said candidates must register for all three nights; if they can’t attend one of them, they can send a representative or place a campaign sign in their absence.
“It’s retail politics… can you shake hands and kiss babies, and answer honest questions and have fair and honest debate?” said MacKinnon. “I want that all to happen organically.”
The events will be rain or shine, free and open to the public. Cost for candidates is $30, to help cover rental fees.
Sarnia voters will have plenty to choose from when they cast their ballots in the Oct. 22 municipal election – including 43 men and women seeking a seat on council.
That’s why MacKinnon created the event.
“How do I go about getting to know these people? I’m a political junkie, and I can’t keep all these people together,” he said.
With an investigated and sanctioned Mayor, the current term of Sarnia City Council will likely be remembered as one of the most tumultuous in recent history.
But MacKinnon said he isn’t worried about political mudslinging in the park.
“Not in Sarnia, that’s not who we are,” he said. “People are only disrespectful when they’re not face-to-face. And that’s why I came to this idea.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: All-candidates fairs
WHEN & WHERE:
Sept. 24 at Newton Park, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Tecumseh Park, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Mike Weir Park, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
DETAILS: Event is free, open to the public