POINT OF VIEW: For fair debate, hopefuls must show up

THE LEAGUE OF Women Voters is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization.

Our vision statement is: “We envision a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge and the confidence to participate.”

With a mission of promoting informed voting, the backbone of this work is the public forums and debates that have held up for 100 years.

These events are guided by the principle that they must be fair and nonpartisan, allowing equal access to all candidates who have applied to represent the community.

The forums are, in essence, a formal interview for the job.

Every incumbent accepted our invitation to participate in a nonpartisan forum, but Republican challengers Sue Forde and Brian Pruiett chose to deny the electorate’s right to hear them debate the Democratic incumbents Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger for legislative seats.

The 2020 forum schedule is different from years past, and I am deeply concerned and disheartened that our community members are being denied the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates that hope to get their vote.

The League has a strict policy that a forum cannot be held unless there are at least two candidates present.

Therefore, we will adhere to our rules, and we will not host a forum for the Legislative District 24 races for the public at large.

There have been few opportunities in this election cycle to interview in front of their potential constituents, and this is a serious loss for our citizens and democracy.

The League empowers voters through voter education and defends democracy through studying issues and taking positions.

What is often lost is that both arms strictly adhere to the same non-partisan policy: The League of Women Voters does not support or oppose candidates, factions or political parties.

There is much anticipation around this upcoming election because of the divisiveness surrounding partisan politics today. The League of Women Voters, at local, state and national levels, believes that every election is vital.

This one is no different from any other in our history.

Please, always be an informed voter, listen to all sides, and exercise the privilege and responsibility that we have in this country to always vote.

________

Rebekah Miller is president of the League of Women Voters of Clallam County.

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