More than 300 people filled a packed Canfor Theatre at UNBC for a Thursday evening conversation between mayoral candidates Lyn Hall and Don Zurowski, moderated by UNBC political professor Tracy Summerville.
In a reflection of a poll commissioned by The Citizen in October, many in the audience at Thursday's forum were still undecided as they came to hear the candidates speak.
Before the forum started, audience member Ann Tiffany said she was among those who had yet to make a firm choice, though she said she was leaning toward Hall.
"I think they're two good candidates and I just can't decide which one to vote for," said Tiffany, a retired nurse who has lived in Prince George for 50 years. She said the decision is difficult because both are well versed in politics and both have lived in Prince George for a number of years. "I want honesty and a clear plan," she said, adding she doesn't want political grandstanding from candidates who avoid specific answers.
After, she said both were on the ball, but she found Hall more defensive and thought Zurowski won the day. "He seemed more concise with his answers and he spoke of vision and I always think that's very important in any type of government to have vision for a community. Where are you going with this community and what can you do best for it?"
Tiffany said she was glad to hear from both that they would improve relations between city staff and council.
"They are the ones that run the place," she said of the workers.
When it came to the conversation of style of leadership in a CEO- versus council-focused mayor, Jennifer Brandle-McCall noted on Twitter some flaws in the night's arguments.
"Hall references 'dialogues' from school district 57 closures as engagement. Except school board didn't respond to parent's presentation," tweeted BrandleMcCall of JBM Communications.
Sue Wardlaw, a Prince George resident since 1958, said the two did well on Summerville's last task: summarize each other's approach.
"As the CEO," she said referring to Zurowski, "And the nice guy," she said of Hall.
Wardlaw said she'd already made up her mind before Thursday, but the talk confirmed her decision.
"At this point we need the CEO rather than the Mr. Nice Guy," she said.
The questions didn't cover what Paul Sanborn hoped to hear: each candidate's position on Northern Gateway pipeline.
The UNBC forestry professor noted the recently acclaimed Smither's mayor Taylor Bachrach came out against the pipeline and, in Kitimat, a majority voted no in a non-binding April plebiscite.
"I've got the impression that Prince George's political leadership has been fairly quiet and I think it's time that stops. I'd like to know where these guys stand."
Sanborn was also undecided and said he didn't know much about either of the candidates. "I'm coming with an open mind," he said. Many in the crowd took to Twitter to compliment moderator Summerville for her role .
Kyle Sampson, who works for CKPG News and The River, said he would have like to see a little more fight from the two.
"I have a winner in my head already, but I don't think from the debate there's a clear winner," he said. "I think they need to punch holes in each other's platforms, not poke holes."
Joy Cotter would have liked to hear more about their stance on service closures, like the pool.
"I think there were a lot of areas that they didn't pick up on that it was more generalized," said Cotter, who has lived in Prince George for more than 50 years. "Specific questions weren't really asked."
She hoped one would support a destination place for the city, like a performing arts centre.
"At the moment, people just sort of drive through. There's really no place to stop."