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Educating voters

Marquette City Commission Candidate Forum to be held Wednesday

MARQUETTE — With nine candidates vying for two open seats on the Marquette City Commission and the Aug. 6 primary election getting closer each day, many city residents may want to get an in-depth look at the candidates and their perspectives.

“When you have a number of candidates — especially like we do for the city commission — it provides a broad field with a lot more different views coming into play,” said Darlene Allen, unit leader for the League of Women Voters of Michigan, Marquette County Member-At-Large State Unit.

To educate voters and give each candidate a chance to say their piece, a Marquette City Commission Candidate Forum will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday by the League of Women Voters of Michigan, Marquette County Member-At-Large State Unit. The forum will take place in the Marquette City Commission Chambers located in the Marquette City Hall at 300 W. Baraga Ave in Marquette.

City commission candidates Evan Bonsall, Margaret Brumm, Barrett Engle, Sally R. Davis, Andrew Lorinser, Jermey Ottaway, Mike Plourde, Nina van den Ende and write-in candidate Cody Mayer will all be present at the forum to answer audience questions, as well as deliver opening and closing statements, organizers said.

With so many in the running for two seats, it’s crucial for citizens to see candidates in person and “hear them answer a variety of questions that lets you experience how they manage in a public setting like that; and how they are able to think about and address each of those questions,” Allen said.

Forum attendees will even have a chance to submit their own questions for the candidates, as LWV volunteers will be handing out notecards to attendees so they can write down a question to be submitted, Allen said.

“We hope to get diverse questions so the audience can hear a lot of different aspects of being a city commissioner and how they answer those questions,” Allen said.

Questions can be submitted at the beginning of the forum or during the forum, she said. Each question will be read by a LWV moderator to the candidates, who will all have a chance to respond to each question.

“All of the candidates get the same amount of time to answer each of the same questions,” Allen said. “We collect as many questions as we can from the audience and we ask as many as we have time for.”

Attendees are encouraged to review information on the candidates at vote411.org before attending the forum, Allen said, as the website shows each candidate’s answer to a set list of questions prepared by the league, allowing the public to compare and contrast candidates’ perspectives on local issues, as well as their potential solutions. The website can also help voters find their polling place and view their ballots, she said.

“I really encourage people to take a look at that first before they come to the forum, because that can help guide their listening once they’re at the forum,” Allen said.

It’s critical for citizens to educate themselves on the candidates and vote in the primary election, Allen said, emphasizing those who don’t vote in the primary may risk their top candidate choice not making it to the general election ballot, as five candidates will be eliminated after the primary.

“The primary election is a really important election for local community. That’s where a lot of the decision making happens,” Allen said.

During the Aug. 6 primary, each voter can cast votes for two of the candidates on the ballot while polls will are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The four candidates receiving the most votes during the Aug. 6 primary election will proceed to the Nov. 5 general election, where Marquette city residents will vote again to determine the two candidates that will fill the open seats.

The openings on the commission are due to the term expirations of Mayor Pro Tem Sarah Reynolds and Commissioner Dave Campana, who were both initially elected in November 2013 and then re-elected in November 2016 for terms expiring November of this year.

For those who can’t attend the forum, there are several other ways to view it, as it will be live-streamed on the League of Women Voters of MI, Marquette County Facebook page. It will also be video recorded and made available after the forum for viewing at http://lwvdeltacounty.org/Marquette_County_Unit.html and www.marquettemi.gov/elections.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that aims to encourage “informed and active participation in government,” further understanding of policy issues and influence policy through education and advocacy, organizers said, emphasizing that the LWV never supports or opposes political parties or candidates.

The local league welcomes new members and encourages interested parties to join or come to a meeting to learn more.

League membership is open to all people 16 and older. The membership fee for students is currently being waived because the LWV at all levels of leadership “recognizes the importance of getting young folks involved, Allen said.

The local LWV meets the first Wednesday of each month at Peter White Public Library from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Allen said, noting those who are interested in joining or learning more about the league are welcome to attend a meeting.

For more information on the forum or the local LWV, call Allen at 906-225-9103, visit http://lwvdeltacounty.org/Marquette_County_Unit.html or the local league’s Facebook page.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal .net.