POTSDAM -- Democratic incumbent Addie J. Russell and Republican challenger Republican David Forsythe, candidates for the 118th Assembly race, will meet face-to-face in a public forum 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 20 at Clarkson University's Snell Room 213, on the hill campus in Potsdam.
The two candidates will take questions and discuss issues in front of a live audience and a media panel.
The two-hour forum will be recorded by Clarkson media students and rebroadcast on WCKN, cable channel 30.
Snell Room 213 is on the second floor, with both stair and elevator access. There is ample parking in Lot 10.
The forum will be moderated by Susan Bellor, president of the local chapter of NYS Women, as well as a member of St. Lawrence County AAUW and the League of Women Voters.
The questions will be asked by a panel of local media, and will include questions from the audience. The media panel will include Beth Graham, Johnson newspapers; John Friot, WWNY-TV; and Scott Dosztan, WPDM/WSNN Radio. Sue Cypert, a LWV member, will ask the public's questions. During the middle of the forum each candidate will be able to ask three questions of the other candidate.
The event will be rebroadcast on a varied schedule several more times before Election Day and made available in various forms by the coalition partners.
The consortium of community groups hosting the voter education forum include the St. Lawrence County Branch AAUW, the Jefferson County Branch AAUW, St. Lawrence County League of Women Voters (LWV), the North Country Region NYS-PTA, WPBS-TV, the American Cancer Society Action Network, the Center for Excellence in Communication at Clarkson University, and North Country Public Radio.
The coalition believes voters are best served by open debate with a live audience on issues and policy, rather than party-sponsored fund-raisers, paid media, and closed studio interviews.
The coalition of groups has tried to organize public forums with all the candidates in other races on the November ballot. No forums could be scheduled for two important races. In the 48th Senate race, incumbent Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine agreed to the live forum; challenger Patricia A. Ritchie refused. In the 23rd district congressional race, challenger Matt Doheny agreed; Congressman Bill Owens refused.
The local coalition is still attempting to organize a live event between the candidates for the 122nd Assembly seat, Brian McGrath and Ken Blankenbush.
Live face-to-face forums between candidates in front of the general public used to the norm during the run up to an election. Now they are very much the exception. Elections, even at the local level, seem dominated by professional campaign managers, big money, special interest organizations, and the political parties.
Civic organizations that once were the champions of an open and transparent electoral process now watch our democratic traditions and systems sink beneath a tidal wave of money, pressure, opposition research, advertising, and political calculation designed to manipulate the voter rather than inform him or her.
In an effort to combat this tide, the voter education coalition has also been presenting a series of North Country Matters Presents: Conversation with Candidates, which have included candidates for St. Lawrence County legislature and both candidates for the 118th Assembly district. Those conversations are available at http://www.youtube.com/user/danieledullea and on WCKN and WPBS-TV.
Dan Dullea, the Center for Excellence in Communication at Clarkson University, 268-6428 or [email protected]
Karen Carr, President, AAUW-Jefferson County, 786-2404 [email protected]
Donna Seymour, Communications Chair, AAUW-St. Lawrence County, 265-6985 [email protected]