Election '09: ’Tis the season ... for political candidate forumsHere is how the Duluth School Board candidates responded to three key questions people are asking, as summarized by David Ross in a Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce blog he released Thursday.
By: Jana Peterson, Budgeteer News
The local election season kicked into high gear this past week, with two candidate forums midweek. The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce held its second School Board candidate forum on Tuesday — unlike the last one, more candidates than Tom Kasper showed up — while Wednesday both School Board and Duluth City Council candidates took turns answering questions at a forum sponsored by the Duluth News Tribune and Fox 21 News.
School Board candidates had no excuse for not giving detailed, thoughtful answers during the Chamber-sponsored forum: After all, the Chamber had sent them the questions a week in advance.
“We were very intentional in getting specifics from candidates — we didn’t want any ‘I need to think about that one’ answers — so we made sure they had time to think about it,” said Chamber CEO David Ross, adding that the there was standing room only at the Chamber forum in the Technology Village.
Nor could onlookers claim ignorance of the candidates’ views, as Chamber staff visually went through each candidates’ answer to the prepared questions.
However, not every candidate answered all the questions. Here is how the candidates responded to three key questions people are asking, as summarized by Ross in a blog he released Thursday.
• Which plan do you support?
All four incumbents — Ann Wasson, Mary Cameron, Nancy Nilsen and Laura Congdon — said they support the long-range facilities plan (LRFP) now under way. Art Johnston and Marcia Stromgren support Let Duluth Vote's Plan B. Tom Kasper said he supports aspects of the LRFP, but would keep Nettleton and Morgan Park schools open. Booth said she could not answer because she had not seen details of the LRFP.
• If elected, would you stop all work on the facilities plan?
Maureen Booth, Kasper and Johnston said they would stop work on the plan. The four incumbents said they would not stop work on the plan. Stromgren chose to not answer this question.
• Would you vote to keep more schools open than the current long-range facilities plan, currently includes?
Booth and the four incumbents said they would not vote to keep more schools open. Stromgren again chose to not answer at all.
Both Stromgren and Nilsen missed both forums: at-large incumbent Nilsen because she was out of the country, Stromgren, who is running for the District One School Board seat, also had a conflict. Stromgren also told the student group, Students for the Future, that she has a conflict for its candidate forum Oct. 29.
Those who missed the DNT/Fox 21 council and school board candidate forums can watch them online at duluthnewstribune.com (look on the home page for a link to the candidate forums”) or at fox21online.com.
Chuck Frederick, DNT editorial page editor, moderated Wednesday’s event.
“Most of the candidates came off pretty well,” he said, noting that the candidates did not know the questions beforehand. “They’ve gone through quite a few forums and debates, so even the political newcomers expressed themselves pretty well.”
There are several more events coming up before the general election Nov. 3, so voters who would like to see the candidates face off in person, can attend one or all of the following candidate forums:
• The League of Women Voters and the Parent, Teacher Student Association will hold a School Board candidate forum from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 22, at the newly remodeled Lowell School, 2000 Rice Lake Road.
• The League and partners will hold a Districts 2 and 4 and At-large City Council candidates forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 29 at Holy Family Church 2430 W. Third St. Co-Sponsors: Duluth Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Neighborhood Housing Services and Churches United in Ministry.
• Students for the Future will host a School Board Election Forum from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 29 in the Board Room at the Historic Old Central High School Building. E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name/voter precinct.