Iqaluit mayor invites residents to ‘a chat’
Kenny Bell to field questions during ‘outreach event’ Wednesday
Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell says he won’t have any scripted answers Wednesday when he gives city residents the chance to “say what they’re going to say.”
Bell is scheduled to hold court at Iqaluit Square in what the city is calling a public outreach event.
“Come have a chat,” Bell wrote on Twitter, where he posted the notice for the session.
He will spend three hours at Iqaluit Square meeting residents between noon and 3 p.m., an announcement issued by the city states. Meetings will be arranged “by walk-in only,” according to the city’s public service announcement.
Bell is in his second year as mayor, after winning the city’s top job in October 2019.
“When I ran, one of the big things I wanted to do was bring the mayor and council back into the community,” he said in an interview. “I wanted to bring back the human side of politics.”
It’s one more way for people to get in touch with their local government, Bell said.
A few more outreach events will be scheduled in the coming weeks, then they will occur on a more regular basis in the fall.
Social media users can communicate easily with council members, but some people prefer the face-to-face approach, Bell said.
While residents can share their views about city business at a council meeting, many people are reluctant to speak in a public forum with people watching and that is recorded.
An outreach event gives them a chance to tell the mayor what they think in an informal setting “so people can really say what they feel,” the mayor said.
Bell said he doesn’t know what to expect to hear from people at Wednesday’s session, but insists they’re free to say what’s on their minds.
“Whatever it is, I want to hear from the public.”
The mayor isn’t sure if other council members will join him because they have day jobs and other responsibilities. But there will be more opportunities for the public to interact with council members in the future, including a “lunch with the mayor” program.
“That will be coming down the line in the new year,” he said.