An all-candidates mayoral forum held last Thursday didn’t allow most voters or any media to attend.
The Saskatoon and Region Home Builders Association hosted the debate and said it was a conscious decision made early in the planning stages.
“This decision was made to encourage more extensive participation by the audience, and because it was a condition that was already decided on in the preliminary stages of planning,” the group said in a statement Monday.
“We felt it would be unfair to allow the members of the media who showed up on the day of the forum to participate.”
All four mayoral candidates took part in the closed door debate that was only open to members of the Contractors Association of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Construction Association and Saskatoon and Region Home Builders Association, according to the event web page.
The Home Builders Association acknowledged how the closed-door event might be perceived, adding “in hindsight, we can see how this may translate externally to a lack of transparency.”
650 CKOM reached out to all four candidates and heard back from incumbent Don Atchison, Kelley Moore and Devon Hein.
In a statement, Atchison’s campaign said, “We are invited as guests to participate in these debates, we have no control over whether media are allowed to attend … we don’t know until we get there if media will be there.”
According to candidate Kelley Moore, several groups hold these forums for candidates and information on whether the event will be open to media isn’t available ahead of time.
“Going forward, I plan to ask them. To let them know that I do support the media being there and ask them to consider that,” she said.
“I do think there’s value in the public being able to see what’s happening at the different forums.”
Candidate Devon Hein referred to the event being closed as “odd.”
Voters head to the polls Oct. 26.