City, school board candidates set for March 26 forum
By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 3/11/2013
It’s a win-win scenario, John Coen said.
Candidates get a forum for their messages, and residents are able to learn more about those vying to serve as their elected leaders.
Ottawa school board and city commission candidates are set to talk about issues affecting local government during a candidate forum 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 26 in the Franklin County Board of Commissioners’ chambers at the Franklin County Office Annex, 1428 S. Main St., Ottawa.
Candidates will receive two minutes to introduce themselves, Coen, president and chief executive officer of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, said Monday. Audience members also will have the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates through moderator Ryan Henningsen, Coen said.
“Candidate forums are a way for local residents to gain access to the candidates,” Coen said. “The forum allows them to formulate questions and ask them through the moderator. And the forum provides residents the opportunity to interact with the candidates and get to know them better.”
Candidate forums are an important part of the election process, Coen, who has been a candidate in two state legislative races, said.
“One big frustration for the candidates is being able to communicate with a large group of people,” Coen said. “It’s hard to get a chance to talk with every constituent when you go door-to-door during the campaign. The forum offers candidates the opportunity to get their message out.”
Incumbents Linda Reed and Jeff Richards, former city commissioner Rocky Fleer and Helen Hood and Mike Skidmore will vie for three openings on the city commission. Longtime commissioner and five-time mayor Gene Ramsey did not seek re-election. Ramsey has served on the commission since 1994.
Six candidates are vying for three open positions on the Ottawa school board. The candidates include Bill Allegre, a current board member, and Lynda Alderman, Tim Catlin, Richard Jackson, Russ Wilson and Norman Wooge. Incumbents Brandon Jones and Marge Stevens did not seek re-election.
The general election is set for April 2.
The Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Action Committee, Franklin County Farm Bureau Association, Ottawa American Legion Post No. 60 and AT&T are sponsoring the forum.