The Muscatine chapter of the League of Women Voters holds public candidate forums. The next one will be Thursday, August 31, 2017, in the city council chambers at Muscatine City Hall at 7:00 p.m. The forum will feature candidates for the Muscatine Community School District school board.
Sue Johannsen has been involved with the League of Women Voters since she moved to Muscatine in the 1970s. “The purpose in having the forums is to inform voters and to educate them about candidates. It is also an opportunity for the candidates to express their views and to let the public know what their views are,” said Johannsen. “We think democracy works better when people are informed about the candidates who are running for office and will make an informed choice at the polls.”
The forums are televised on local access television, but the citizens in attendance dictate the topics discussed. “Basically, the people who are in the audience generate the content that is asked of the candidates. Our board of directors does generate one question that we provide to all the candidates ahead of time and that is typically the first question,” Johannsen said.
The attendees generate the other questions the candidates discuss at the forum. “Our members give the audience index cards and something to write with, and the people in attendance can write their questions. Some folks come with their own questions and just hand them in,” Johannsen said.
Since 2003, Johannsen has served as the moderator of these forums. “The moderator can also change wording to clarify the question,” Johannsen said.
These forums allow people who are interested in candidates to learn more about the people running for public office. “The League is an organization that is non-partisan. It never endorses or opposes any candidate that is running. We always try to be careful that that is upheld in our community. School Board is a non-partisan election, but as we get into local and county elections we make sure to keep out of the partisan discussion.”
In recent months, the public has become more interested in local government. “I think people still want to know who their elected officials are. They are interested knowing what the people running for office stand for,” Johannsen said.