Letter to the Editor: Candidate forums empower and hopefully inspire residents

Thursday, October 19, 2017

To the Editor:

As organizer and sponsor of the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce candidate forum on Tuesday, I am responding to the “Letter to the Editor: Candidate forums silence concerns of residents.”

The author was disappointed that the forums didn't include questions from the audience, and asks, “exactly what is the point of holding a candidate forum?”

The point of our forum was to encourage more Shoreliners to see and hear their candidates in person, and be better equipped to vote their values - whatever they are - on November 7. There is scant coverage of Shoreline’s elections in newspapers. The voters’ pamphlet and candidate websites have short statements that often fail to differentiate candidates. For example, everyone loves adding sidewalks and hates increasing taxes, but the test is how to balance the two.

Our five questions could have been cleverer. At times I wanted to yell out a follow-up question, and probably many others did too. But they were deliberately broad and open-ended, and they created sufficient opportunity for the six candidates to speak to their values and the issues in 1.5 hours.

So when do residents have the chance to speak? Right after the forum, all six candidates came to the nearby bar and started conversations with small groups of people. But any day, we can write letters to Councilmembers. We can also serve on a Citizen Advisory Committee, call and email city staff members, go to open houses and the City Manager's office.

But in a city with little local independent journalism, the trick is figuring out what is happening that we want to speak about. I hope City Council selects timely and effective communication of emerging issues as a major goal in 2018. I'll write them a letter about it!

Megan Kogut PhD


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