League of Women Voters forums feature candidates, initiatives

The League of Women Voters of Whidbey Island will begin a series of political forums next week for the November general elections.

And like those held during the August primary election, they will be conducted with several rule changes. The main difference is that questions will not be taken from the crowd.

The idea is to eliminate the possibility of grandstanding or subjecting candidates to “planted” questions from the audience that are meant to benefit a single person. Instead, all questions have been penned by league members.

“We know our members are involved and informed citizens; that’s why they belong to the League,” Barbara Seitle, a member of the forum committee and a past league state president, said in a recent news release.

“We want to respect their knowledge and experience and present their questions in a planned, thoughtful manner,” she wrote.

Another change allows candidates to respond to other candidates or clarify their own previous statements. Each is provided with a limited number of “challenge” cards, which can be used at any time.

“We know that candidates and the audience have often been frustrated by the inability of candidates to respond to an accusation or misinformation presented by another candidate,” said Marshall Goldberg, also a member of the league’s forum committee. “We feel this new format helped rectify this situation.”

The first forum will feature candidates vying in Island County and state races and begins at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge, 155 N.E. Ernst St., in Oak Harbor.

Participants will include candidates for state Senate, state Legislature positions 1 and 2 and County Commissioner Districts 1 and 2.

A forum featuring the same people will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island, located at 20103 Highway 525 about two miles north of Freeland.

Two forums focused on three state initiatives and one referendum are also scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 7. The first begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Freeland and the second at 6:30 p.m. at the Elks Lodge in Oak Harbor.

The feature initiatives include: I-1185 concerning tax and fee increases by state government, I-1240 for the creation of a public charter school system, and I-502 for the legalization of marijuana. Referendum 74, concerning the legalization of same-sex marriage will also be discussed.

For more information, call Seitle at 360-221-3792.


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