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Public has opportunity to meet candidates

Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce President Justin Starlin and League of Women Voters of Wayne County President Alex Davis welcome the public to Candidates Night at the First Presbyterian Church of Wooster.

Karen Skubik

Although the League of Women Voters of Wayne County has successfully organized Candidates Nights for many decades, this year they will try something new.
Kathy Helmuth, co-chair of the Voter Service Committee for the local League, explained the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce has banded with the LWVWC to be a supporting partner for the event.
Chamber President Justin Starlin said, “The Chamber board recognizes the importance of informing the public and business community of the positions and issues of a general election and felt the most effective outreach is to partner with the League of Women Voters on an open Candidates Night.”
The League has a national reputation for being fair and nonpartisan. To make sure this carries over locally, Wayne County’s League President Alex Davis said, “To assure the nonpartisan nature of Candidates Night, the LWVWC welcomes volunteers from multiple political parties and requires that question screeners include at least one Republican and one Democrat.”
Davis explained that the local League — including their board — is often made up of Republicans, Democrats and even those with no party affiliation. She said, “Candidates Night includes volunteers from both the League and other organizations, and the screeners are from both parties.”
In addition to partnering with the Wooster Chamber of Commerce, the League also has changed the venue for this year’s Candidates Night. Bruch Hall in the First Presbyterian Church of Wooster will be the site for the Thursday night event on Oct. 19.
Helmuth said, “The LWVWC chose that site because it is a lovely, large room that will be able to accommodate 200 people or more with room to move around and talk informally during intermission and afterward. We are expecting a large crowd as there seems to be lots of interest in the candidates.”
Davis said, “I’m thankful to the Presbyterian church for letting us use this inviting facility.” There is ample parking on the south side of the church and the room is handicapped-accessible.
“We will be following our usual format," Helmuth said, “where the candidates will be able to answer questions from the audience in a fair, balanced and nonpartisan sequence.”
The candidates will be grouped by office for which they are running, and Helmuth said, “We have had a wonderful response from the candidates. All 15 of the candidates have replied and are going to attend. This will make for a very full and interesting evening.”
Three candidates are seeking the position of judge for the Wayne County Municipal Court: Barbara A. Knapic, Michael W. Rickett and Suzanne Marie Waldron.
There are four Wooster City Council positions up for grabs. Democrat Jennifer Warden and Republican MacKenzie Haiss are running for Ward 2. Scott E. Myers, Independent, and Joe Churpek, Democrat, are competing for Ward 4 while three candidates are vying for the two Council-at-Large seats: Independent Greg Gehris, Republican Jon E. Ansel and Democrat Bill Bostancic.
Five candidates have filed to run for the three open seats on the Wooster City School Board: Hilary Carroll, Erik Coblentz, William Gantz, Brad E. Gowins and Dan Stavnezer.
The League shifted the event to 6:30 p.m., which is an earlier time than in recent years, due to the large number of candidates participating and the public’s interest in these races.
Davis said, “The 6:30 time should make sure all candidates are given adequate time for responses.”
“I encourage people to come out and hear the candidates talk about their views and opinions in a calm atmosphere where everyone will have time to speak,” Helmuth said. “There is nothing like hearing candidates in person to help you decide who to vote for. Also there will be some time during intermission to talk to candidates personally if you wish.”
Davis said, “It is the best way to get direct access to the candidates to ask specific questions about one’s concerns.” 
Both Helmuth and Davis said they are thankful for the Chamber of Commerce’s collaboration this year and for the Chamber’s attitude, as summarized by Starlin: “A well-informed and active electorate is vitally important in maintaining the strong community that we've become today."

Published: October 10, 2017
New Article ID: 2017171009982