Thursday, October 30, 2014

Forum moderator: Primary election requires wise voters

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 7/18/2014

Tuesday’s candidate forum is about educating voters before the Aug. 5 primary, Tony Brown said. And the best way to accomplish that goal is to question those seeking public office on the issues.

“I think our entire system is based off the foundation of educator voters,” Brown, who serves as moderator for the event, said. “I don’t think it is wise or appropriate for a voter to walk into the voting booth and know nothing about the people they are voting for.”

Tuesday’s candidate forum is about educating voters before the Aug. 5 primary, Tony Brown said. And the best way to accomplish that goal is to question those seeking public office on the issues.

“I think our entire system is based off the foundation of educator voters,” Brown, who serves as moderator for the event, said. “I don’t think it is wise or appropriate for a voter to walk into the voting booth and know nothing about the people they are voting for.”

The Ottawa and Area Chamber of Commerce is organizing its 2014 primary election candidate forum 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Ottawa Municipal Auditorium, 301 S. Hickory St., Ottawa. Primary candidates are expected to field questions from Brown, assistant dean for outreach and workforce development at Neosho County Community College’s Ottawa campus and a former state legislator.

“If we’re going to expect the government to solve problems ... we need to ask them questions, do the research and be informed voters,” Brown said. “To me that’s the way the system is supposed to work.”

Audience members will be allowed to submit questions, Brown said, but he will try to keep the forum on a tight schedule because of the number of candidates participating.

“There are a lot of candidates that are showing up, so we don’t want to be there all night,” he said. “We’re going to try to stick to a very tight time frame, but I also don’t want to cut anyone off who wants to ask questions.”

As moderator, Brown will attempt to focus questions on the specific races, he said.

One of the most contested races is the election for Kansas secretary of state, which pits incumbent Kris Kobach against Lawrence Republican Scott Morgan. Both candidates are planning to participate in Tuesday’s forum in Ottawa, with questions about the proof-of-citizenship voter registration issue, which currently leaves many Kansans unregistered to vote, among the night’s topics, Brown said.

“The fact that a significant number of Kansans that registered to vote are in limbo right now, and how do we resolve that,” Brown said.

For the state and county issues, Brown said he plans to ask the candidates how to deal with creating budgets with less revenue. State and county candidates will face questions specific to their responsibilities, he said.

“The questions are going to center around how they are going to meet the services that are required of those levels of government with a shrinking budget,” Brown said. “Education is an issue, certainly at the state level, and the importance of education as a fundamental service of the state. At the county level, we raise the issue of economic development. How do [the elected officials] accomplish that on limited funding?”

Brown plans to ask sheriff candidates how they plan to lower the crime rate throughout the county, he said, as well as about the importance of funding for the development of the department’s new facility on Beech Street.

Candidates expected at the forum, along with the position sought, include:

• Kobach and Morgan, Kansas secretary of state;

• Blaine Finch and Bob Fluke, Kansas House District 59;

• Kevin Jones, Kansas House District 5 (unopposed);

• Jennifer Winn, Kansas governor;

• Chad Taylor, U.S. Senate;

• Joshua Tucker, U.S. House 2nd District;

• Jeff Richards and Michael Reed, Franklin County sheriff;

• Don Stottlemire and Randy Renoud, Franklin County commissioner;

• Steve Harris, Franklin County commissioner (unopposed); and

• Colton Waymire, Franklin County commissioner (unopposed).

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