July 11, 2014
I am writing to shed some light on an issue that has come to the fore with this election cycle. It has long been the policy of the Door County League of Women Voters to conduct one candidate forum per race. If there is a primary, all candidates are invited to a forum before the primary election. If there is not a primary, the forum is held during the general election season. In reality, many forums are regularly conducted in one election season since we organize them for city, town, village, county, school district, state, and federal level offices.
The Door County League follows this policy for a number of reasons. First, the League believes our role is to help voters be informed about all persons who step up as candidates for office. For this reason, we designate the deadline for requesting a forum two weeks after the filing deadline. For the fall election cycle, that deadline was June 16. This allows League members the time required to organize the forum prior to the primary (if there is one) or general election.
Second, our influence may seem widespread, but we have a small number of active members. While voter service is our most visible activity, it is far from the only thing we do. As a result, our active members are busy with a number of projects. The voter service situation is complicated by the fact that Leaguers by nature like to be involved politically and from time to time exercise their right to participate in campaigns by running for office, supporting candidates, or working for a political party. Not only is this their right, but it also promotes good government. However, when League members choose to be involved in a political race in whatever capacity, they take themselves out of the pool of members who can work on voter service projects. The League’s nonpartisan policy dictates they cannot be involved in organizing or implementing voter service activities during that period.
Third, the League has established a practice of video recording candidate forums and placing them on our local access channels and on the Internet. Feedback shows that viewers watch and appreciate these videos. However, the League’s limited budget impacts the number of recordings we can afford to make.
To make a long story short, we simply don’t have the numbers - people and dollars - to have forums for both parts of a race. We therefore have a forum at a time when all potential candidates can be involved. In fact, a primary forum is not very different from a general election forum. The same questions are asked, and the candidates’ positions don’t change. Voters can learn what they need to know from one forum.
There is one other possibility. The Door County League would love to have enough workers and money to run more forums. We urge all of you to join with us not only to hold more candidate forums but also to conduct all the other voter service projects that we have limited time to do. For more information on how to join the League of Women Voters, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please attend the two forums scheduled related to fall elections and learn about the cadidates:
Wisconsin District 1 Assembly July 23, 7 PM Southern Door Community Auditorium
Door County Sheriff July 30, 7 PM Jacksonport Town Hall
Sandy Brown, President