Qualicum Beach mayoral race: Debate challenge denied

Incumbent says this invitation shows the 'inexperience' of his challenger

Qualicum Beach mayoral candidate Denyse Widdifield has challenged incumbent Teunis Westbroek to a one-on-one debate over and above the scheduled all-candidates meetings. Westbroek has declined.

“The upcoming all-candidates meetings in Qualicum Beach offer very little opportunity for debating the issues,” Widdifield said in a news release announcing her challenge. “Their main purpose is to allow the voters to review the candidates’ platforms and point of view. I believe that it would be beneficial to arrange a mayoral debate to present both our views to the Qualicum Beach voters. I am ready to coordinate a mayoral debate at a time suitable to my opponent. My campaign will be happy to arrange and pay for a venue.”

In response, Westbroek disagreed with Widdifield’s premise, saying the formats of the already-scheduled meetings work well.

“My first reaction (to Widdifield’s challenge) is it’s a bit of a slight to the people who organize these all-candidates meetings,” Westbroek told The NEWS in a phone interview Wednesday. “From my experience, they work quite well. It (the challenge from Widdifield) shows a lot of inexperience.”

Westbroek also said it’s important voters hear the views of candidates for both council and mayor.

“This election is not just about electing a mayor,” he said. “I think the people need to see all the people running for council — they all have one vote (on issues before council).”