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Locally, the upcoming forums are an important voter resource

Watch all three presidential debates? Congratulations and our sympathies. Instead of listening to candidates duck questions and ignore moderators, how about a refreshing change of pace? Check out two candidate forums for Ely city council and school board.
This week the six people on the ballot for three seats on the city council will be at the VCC theater on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Candidates Jerome Debeltz, Paul Kess, Angela Campbell, Ryan Callen, Rachel Colber and Mark Zupec will give opening and closing statements with questions inbetween.
The event, sponsored by the Ely chapter of the American Association of University Women and Ely’s Rotary Club, is the only time the candidates will be at a public forum.
Similarily, school board candidates James Pointer, Alexis Leitgeb, Tom Omerza, Zach Walen, Heidi Mann and Geoff Galaski are invited to a forum on Nov. 3, also at VCC and at 7 p.m.
These forums are one way for voters to get a first hand look at who will represent them locally for the next four years.
We would’ve like to see the school board debate held a day or more earlier to include it in our pre-election day publication but scheduling can be a nightmare with that many people.
The number of people on stage is unwieldy as well. Even Chris Matthews would have a hard time asking individual questions of that many candidates. It’s much easier with just two.
We’d like to see a format that gets away from asking the same question to six people. From past experience, we can say the majority will give the same answer.
There would sure to be calls of unfairness to ask questions designated for a specific candidate yet shouldn’t that be scrutiny be allowed?
We’d like to see a former school employee questioned over her departure from the district. Don’t voters have a right to know her answer on stage as to why she was placed on administrative leave amid allegations that she created a hostile work environment, used retaliatory practices, and misused sick and vacation time?
Or perhaps why an incumbent voted for or against a specific issue? Or a potential conflict of interest? We understand the difficulty and even how uncomfortable it would be to ask such questions. But it would make for a much more livelier forum.

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