This year’s heightened interest in all things political has resulted in lots of candidates locally, which means PAVE (the Pottawatomie County Advocates for Voter Education) has a lot of ground to cover.
The group, a successor organization to the League of Women Voters here, met last week and decided to host three candidate forums before the June 26 primary. Here’s the schedule:
• June 7 — Candidates for the Shawnee City Commission Ward seat and the Pottawatomie County Commissioner Dist. 1 seat are invited to participate in a forum beginning at 6:30 pm in the commission chambers at Shawnee City Hall. Ronnye Perry Sharp will serve as moderator.
There are two candidates for the City Commission seat, Ed Bolt and Steve Palmer. The winner June 26 will be elected. Bolt has already accepted the invitation to participate. There are also two candidates for the County Commissioner seat, Melissa Dennis and Bill Meek. Both are Republicans and no Democrats filed, so the winner will be elected. Meek has accepted the invitation to participate.
• June 14 — Candidates for Oklahoma House of Representatives Dist. 26 are invited to participate in a forum beginning at 6:30 pm in the commission chambers at Shawnee City Hall. PAVE president Marilyn Bradford will serve as moderator.
Democratic candidates are E. Bruce Bushong, Terry W. Hopkins and Lauren Richter. Republican candidates are Lucas Cannon, Dell Kerbs (the incumbent) and Sterling Springer.
• June 18 — Candidates for Oklahoma State Senate Dist. 28 and House of Representatives Dist. 27 are invited to participate in a forum beginning at 6:30 pm in the council chambers at Tecumseh City Hall. Ronnye Perry Sharp will serve as moderator.
Competing for the State Senate seat are two Republicans, Robert McKinney and the incumbent, Jason Smalley. The winner will be elected.
Candidates for House Dist. 27 are all Republicans, so the winner, if he or she receives a majority of the votes, will be elected. They are Joseph Blanchard, Jason Harris, Dave Spaulding and Danny Sterling. All four have said they will participate in the forum.
The Shawnee City Hall forums will be broadcast live on Vyve channel 3 and streamed for desktop computers at www.ShawneeOk.org/Live. Streaming is also available for iPad users with the UStream app (search for Shawnee).
At each forum, candidates will make brief opening and closing statements, and will answer written questions submitted from the audience and screened for relevance and duplication. Those planning to attend are encouraged to write out their questions in advance to help include as many questions as possible, although cards will be available at the forum so questions can be written there.
“Candidates tell us they prefer participating in a PAVE forum because they know it will be fair, nonpartisan, and well organized,” said Bradford. The format follows that recommended by the League of Women Voters. Bradford also urged anyone interested to join PAVE and help with the forums. If interested leave a message on the PAVE Facebook page.
PAVE is a non-partisan voter education group with several years’ experience hosting forums. All forums are open to the public at no charge.