Columbia Valley residents interested in seeing the local federal election candidates in person will have a chance to do so at an all candidates’ election forum in a little more than two weeks time.

The forum will be held at the David Thompson Secondary School theatre on Monday, September 28th and, as of press time, organizers confirmed it will feature four of the five candidates in the running, including Conservative incumbent David Wilks, NDP candidate Wayne Steski, Liberal candidate Don Johnston and Green candidate Bill Green. The only candidate not yet confirmed for the forum is Libertarian Christina Yahn.

With the structure of this debate, we get to hear firsthand what the candidates views’ are on a variety of issues, said forum committee chair Dee Conklin. It is truly important that we have the information on issues affecting us locally so the residents can make an informed decision at the voting booth.

Local resident Jim Neilsen has been selected as moderator of the event. The questions to be asked at the forum will come from suggestions from the local public picked by the committee.

For the next few weeks, the residents of the valley can submit their questions, then a panel of five will categorize and review the questions, and then structure eight to 12 questions, hopefully, on a variety of issues. The candidates will be emailed the questions 24 hours in advance so they can prepare, said Ms. Conklin. Then the moderator will allow each candidate the allotted time to answer the questions. There will be no questions from the floor.

The forum will run from 7 to 9 p.m. and Ms. Conklin said she expects the theatre to be packed.

We recommend that folks show up early to get a seat. It will be a full house, she said.

Earlier this summer, Mr. Stetski grabbed media attention by challenging Mr. Wilks to debates throughout the riding. Mr. Wilks did not respond at the time (although both Mr. Johnston and Mr. Green indicated they would join in), but was hitting back against Mr. Stetski through his Facebook page earlier this week, saying the Columbia Valley forum was one of nine such forums he will attend in the next few weeks. He said he and his team had requested that local Chambers of Commerce in each community help organize the forums with no fanfare, no going to the media for publicity.

Those wishing to submit suggested questions for the forum which should be related to issues the federal overnment has control of can do so at by clicking on “Submit Forum Questions.” The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, September 22nd at noon.