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Our View / Hear from the candidates: DNT-Chamber forums are set

From the editorial: "There are all sorts of politically strategic reasons to refuse to publicly face voters and answer hard questions, but they tend to serve only the candidates while constituents and the voting public are snubbed and shortchanged."

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Bill Day / Cagle Cartoons
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Voters in Duluth and the Northland have difficult, critical decisions to make. Their votes in the Nov. 8 election, with early voting starting Friday, will impact state and local coffers for years to come, public safety across our region, and who we are and who we want to be.

Our very future is at stake.

To help, with reliable information straight from the candidates, the News Tribune and Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, as we’ve done for over a decade, are partnering this fall to co-host a series of candidate and election forums. There’ll be sessions on the St. Louis County Sheriff’s race, legislative races in and near Duluth, and the parks levy question that will be on ballots in Duluth.

There won’t be candidate forums in Duluth, unfortunately, for the governor’s race or for the 8th Congressional District, after DFL Gov. Tim Walz and Republican Congressman Pete Stauber declined to participate. There are all sorts of politically strategic reasons to refuse to publicly face voters and answer hard questions, but they tend to serve only the candidates while constituents and the voting public are snubbed and shortchanged, denied the chance to hear directly from those who are or who would like to be their elected representatives. Walz’s and Stauber’s challengers — Republican Scott Jensen of Chaska and Jen Schultz of Duluth, respectively — can be commended for their willingness to put themselves out there and to face the electorate here in Duluth.

Commendations also to the other candidates and government leaders who’ve committed or are expected to participate in the following forums, all in-person again and open to the public at The Garden (formerly Grandma’s Sports Garden in Canal Park), 425 S. Lake Ave. The forums will also be video-recorded by the News Tribune and made available for viewing later, on-demand, at duluthnewstribune.com. The moderators will be Matt Baumgartner, president of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, and Chuck Frederick, editorial page editor at the News Tribune.

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Two sessions are planned for Monday, Oct. 3.

The first, at 8 a.m., will feature St. Louis County Sheriff candidates Jason Lukovsky and Gordon Ramsay.

The second, at 9:30 a.m., will feature Mayor Emily Larson, parks officials, and others discussing a ballot question to change Duluth’s Parks Fund levy, first approved by voters in 2011, from a fixed dollar amount of $2.6 million a year to a percentage of property value. The change would allow Park Fund levy proceeds to grow over time.

Three legislative candidate forums are scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 4.

At 8 a.m., House District 8A incumbent DFL Rep. Liz Olson, 8A Republican challenger Art Johnston, House District 8B Republican Becky Hall, and House District 8B DFL candidate Alicia Kozlowski will take turns answering questions. District 8A is in western Duluth, and District 8B is in eastern Duluth.

At 9:30 a.m., Minnesota House District 3B DFL Rep. Mary Murphy is expected to take the stage with her Republican challenger Natalie Zeleznikar of Duluth.

And at 11 a.m., State Senate District 3 DFL candidate Grant Hauschild, Senate District 3 Republican Andrea Zupancich, Senate District 8 incumbent DFL Sen. Jen McEwen, and Senate District 8 Republican Alex Moe are scheduled. Senate District 3 is located just outside Duluth; Hauschild and Zupancich are vying to replace outgoing independent Sen. Tom Bakk. Senate District 3 covers Duluth.

All these forums are being monitored by Civility Certified: Speak Your Peace .

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Voters have important choices to make this fall, so should make plans now to attend these forums, each one a valuable opportunity, or to watch online later. There’s lots of necessary, good information to digest.

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