Grand Lake mayoral candidates prepare to square off at candidate forum
September 4, 2008
Grand Lake mayoral candidate Judy Burke has been sending mailings, putting up signs, talking with people and planning an ad ” campaigning for her second try at the Grand Lake mayoralty.
A close-call election last April negated by a court decision based on the eligibility of voters has given the past mayor another chance to win votes.
Grand Lake’s re-do election is set for Tuesday, Sept. 23.
“I think it’s a little bit more contentious this time just because of the problems with the registrations,” Burke said Wednesday.
Grand Lake’s voter registration list has been the substance of debate in recent months.
The town’s election official has undertaken a meticulous review of the list and is forwarding to the district attorney’s office this week seven names of people suspected of having voted illegally in the last election.
“We really sorely need to bring the community back together,” said the former mayor, who served one term preceding the short-lived mayoral term of Glenn Harrington, her opponent who won the April 1 election.
All along Burke has agreed with Grand Lake’s election official Ronda Kolinske’s decision to keep voter registration in-check in accordance with her oath of office to do so.
By allowing illegitimate voters, or voters who claim Grand Lake their primary residency yet do not reside in town, to fall through the system, Burke said, legitimate votes could be canceled out.
Voting, she said, is “an important thing, and I think we need to protect it.”
Meanwhile, her opponent Harrington has maintained that voters’ claim of primary residency is left up to the the voter himself or herself and testing claims of residency can hinder a fundamental right in America.
“Town Attorney Scotty Krob has found that the courts have been unwilling to find that a person’s primary residence is not where the voter says it is,” Harrington said.
“Therefore, the voter’s primary residence is where the voter says it is.”
The deadline to register for the upcoming election was Aug. 25, and the last day to apply as a write-in candidate was Sept. 3.
Burke and Harrington hope a Grand Lake candidate forum Sept. 9 will help to clear the air as voters learn candidates’ views on that town issue as well as others.
“I’m looking forward to the forum and feel this is what we need at this time for clarification, and to allow the voters the opportunity to see both of us,” Harrington said.
The Grand Lake board member said his goal this election is to “maintain a positive campaign with emphasis on being fair.”
The format of the forum is planned to be more open than past Grand Lake forums and will include a majority of questions from audience members.
Although the exact format of the debate has not yet been solidified, moderator Fred Schroeder has proposed a panel of three people ” two chosen by each candidate Harrington and Burke, and another chosen by the moderator ” to select which audience questions will be asked.
“We’re trying to introduce a little more back-and-forth,” Schroeder said, “to have it a little more open and a little more debate-like so candidates have a chance to react to the other’s answers.”
The forum, he said, could be a hybrid of “what has been done in (Grand Lake) in the past and what’s been done on the national level.”
Schroeder is a retired school district superintendent with a consulting business. The five-year Grand Lake resident has had much experience with community forums, focus groups and has moderated in the past, he said.
From his experience, having audience members write questions down should help to solicit more thoughtful questions, Schroeder said.
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