Wayne Stewart responds to ‘stupid statement’ about student voters
After a rough start with Mount Royal University’s demographic, mayoral candidate Wayne Stewart has come back to court student voters.
Meghan Melnyk, VP external of the Student’s Association of Mount Royal University, said she made several attempts between late July and mid-August to contact Stewart’s campaign team about the mayoral candidate attending a mayoral speed-dating-style event, where students will be able to sit down and briefly talk to the candidates.
Melnyk said she called, emailed, and even tweeted Stewart’s campaign team during this time. She was finally successful on Aug. 19 when one of Stewart’s volunteers answered the phone.
However, she said the volunteer’s response surprised her.
According to Melnyk, the volunteer told her that: “Wayne Stewart was very busy and is getting requests all the time, and that he wouldn’t have time to speak with [her and SAMRU president Robert Jones], because students aren’t the demographic Stewart is trying to reach.”
Stewart apologized for the comments on Oct. 4. He said, “All I can do at this point is apologize. I would not have said that.
“It’s that kind of stupid statement that can affect your campaign.”
The volunteer has yet to be identified, but Stewart said that he has no intention of finding out.
“I don’t have the capacity or the time to do a series of questions to find out who actually said this and get rid of them,” he said.
“I think the candidate has to create a model for the people that are volunteering for them,” he continued. “That model for me has to be one of respect and courtesy and I would have expected that from everyone. “
When asked why it took several weeks to respond to the VP external’s calls, Stewart said that his campaign team had “real problems with the phone system,” because the campaign was being run out of two different offices, and that “the answering machine at the one place either wasn’t working, or wasn’t being picked up.”
Stewart said that his campaign is “built on inclusion and access.” He also said that he targets under-represented voices, including students. If elected, Stewart said that he would add direct bus routes to the Lincoln Park campus. He also plans to make registering secondary suites an easier process to help address current student-housing concerns.
Stewart also held the executive-in-residence position at MRU before taking leave to run in the election.
It seems as though the students’ association has gotten over being given the cold shoulder, judging from an emailed statement by Melnyk.
“While the incident was upsetting, Mr. Stewart and his team have apologized for the mixed-messaging,” she wrote. “We would like to focus on the positives and are happy that Mr. Stewart has a strong focus on (post-secondary edutcation) students and our issues.”
“ The SA is thrilled that Mr. Stewart will be attending the Mayoral Speed Date event on Oct. 7 and look forward to our students being able to ask him, and the other candidates, questions about the future of our great city.”