Ramsey voters will not get the opportunity to see the city council candidates go head to head on the issues this election.
With half of the candidates declining to participate, the League of Women Voters (LWV) had to the cancel the candidates forum scheduled for Oct. 10.
It is the LWV policy to have at least two or more candidates for each seat participate, said Kay McCulley, LWV voter service member.
Incumbents Mayor Bob Ramsey and Ward 2 Councilmember Colin McGlone as well as Wayne Buchholz for Ward 4 candidate and Joe Field, who is an at-large council candidate, declined to participate.
For Buchholz, the night of the forum conflicted with a previous commitment.
But for McGlone, his reason for not participating in the forum is more about campaign strategy.
His opponent Mark Kuzma is backed by an action committee that is stuffing mailboxes and putting up signs for him, so why should he give Kuzma more airtime, McGlone said.
“I refuse to him one more minute of airtime,” he said.
Mayor Ramsey’s reason has more to do with the LWV.
“I don’t agree with any of positions that the League of Women Voters has,” he said.
The group has a very liberal and has a progressive platform, Ramsey said.
For some forums, the candidates have received advanced notice of the questions to prepare and the questions are very slanted to the LWV’s positions, according to Ramsey.
“I don’t want to be subjected to answering questions that are skewed toward the league’s objectives,” Ramsey said.
Field objected to this year’s proposed format that would take questions from the audience.
With a political action committee (PAC), Citizens for Responsible Government, involved in local elections this year, taking questions from the audience would invite mischief, he said.
“I do not see this as a healthy, productive opportunity for discussion with a PAC involved,” Field said.
This is not the first time LWV has had to cancel a candidate forum in Ramsey.
In 2008, LWV only held a forum for one of the three seats that were up for election that year because of the lack of participation, McCulley said.
While the goal of the forums is to give citizens the opportunity to get informed, candidates have declined to participate for several reasons over the years, she said.
In addition to the reasons given by the Ramsey candidates, others have declined because of job conflicts or because they don’t like that LWV has a separate lobbying arm for local, state and national issues, McCulley said.
LWV has sponsored candidates forums in many Anoka County cities and for county and state races over the years.
So far, the Ramsey forum is the only one canceled because of lack of participation, McCulley said.
Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]