Candidates decline to join others at forums

As a nonpartisan political organization, The League of Women Voters encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. LWV does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. We provide information to voters to make democracy work.

Over the years, The Williamsburg Area LWV has sponsored well-attended candidate forums for state and local races as a service to provide area voters an opportunity to hear responses to substantive questions from all the candidates in an election. These live forums are open to the public without charge. For many voters, this is the only opportunity to consider their ballot choices.

To avoid the appearance of favoritism for one candidate over another, the League will not conduct an “empty chair” debate. All candidates must participate to provide voters the opportunity to evaluate all of the contenders answering the same questions.

Forum planning and outreach to candidates occurs soon after their filing date. Candidates who decline to participate or who do not respond to repeated forum requests deprive voters of a vital information source. Declining an opportunity to discuss the issues that matter the most to voters is a disservice to those voters. Campaign literature and websites may hit some key words, but do not provide citizens with face-to-face comparisons.

This year, the League planned three candidate forums: one for each House of Delegates candidates from the 93rd and 96th districts and a third for Board of Supervisor candidates in the James City County Jamestown and Powhatan districts.

The four candidates for the Board of Supervisors should be lauded for their prompt and positive responses. They will provide the voters in their respective districts a great service. That forum will be held on at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Supervisors Boardroom in JCC Building F. All district voters are invited to attend.

Unfortunately, we have been advised that Heather Cordasco, a candidate for the 93rd delegate race, and 96th delegate incumbent Brenda Pogge have declined to participate in our forums, depriving constituents and voters of any opportunity to understand their positions and priorities.

The League suggests citizens let these non-responsive candidates know that you want to hear from them; that their non-participation does not serve the public interest.

If candidates don’t respond when they want your vote, how responsive will they be if elected to office?

Mary E. Schilling

President League of Women Voters of Williamsburg Area

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