League's forum format promising | Editorial
July 6, 2012 · Updated 1:47 PM
The Whidbey Island League of Women Voters is trying a new Candidates Night format for the primary election, and so far we like what we’ve heard.
Scandalous as it may sound at first impression, the League will not allow questions from the audience. This is the first time anyone can remember that audience questions will not be allowed, but it’s worth a try.
There are four candidates running for county commissioner in District 2, centered in the Oak Harbor area; and five running for the seat from District 1, which encompasses South and Central Whidbey Island.
Each candidate will give a statement and be asked questions prepared in advance by the League of Women Voters. This way, citizens in attendance will hear each candidate answer the same questions, and be able to compare the answers to a number or questions, all pertinent to issues in Island County.
In the past, questions from the public have been scattergun at best, and often missed the point. Some cooked up by supporters of a particular candidate were meant to be negative or misrepresent the position of another candidate. The classic question in such a process is, “Have you stopped beating your spouse?” The question itself is devastating, and the candidate is put in a defensive posture regardless of the answer.
The League’s new format appears to be a good one, with each candidate given fair, tough questions that will enlighten the voting public. It’s certainly worth a try. Candidates can even “challenge” another’s answer in his or her own defense.
The League isn’t committed forever to this new format. If it doesn’t work for some reason they can go back to the old way for the general election. But it’s certainly worth a try, and could even draw more “real citizens’ to the meetings, as they know there will be no loaded or misdirected questions.
The District 2 forum will be held Wednesday, July 11, at 7 p.m. at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge. The District 1 forum will be held Thursday, June 19, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building. They promise to be enlightening experiences that the voting public should attend.