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CIE planning forums for non-partisan races

Citizens for an Informed Electorate, formed in 2008 to hold forums for non-partisan races, will expand this year to legislative candidates.

CIE will host seven candidate forums over four nights during the last three weeks of the month. All will be at Bemidji City Hall, and will be broadcast live over cable Channel 2.

All forums will be moderated by Brad Swenson, Opinion page/political editor for the Bemidji Poineer, and John Parsons, former Lakeland News reporter. Maggie Montgomery, station manager at KAXE Community Radio, will substitute for Swenson for the partisan debate to allow him to report the debate for the Pioneer.

All the forums will have the same format. Candidates will have opening statements and then in rotation answer questions submitted by the City Hall audience. Moderators will screen the questions for appropriateness and duplicity. Candidates will give closing statements to end the forums.

"CIE formed in 2008, seeks to provide an outlet for the public to gain more knowledge about candidates in order to make an informed decision at the polls," says Michael Meuers, a CIE founder.

"Although two civic groups have sponsored narrowly focused general election forums, no civic group or organization has provided this service for primary elections, or an 'open' and broad issue approach for general elections," he said.

CIE represents a cross section of citizens and media members who want to provide as many opportunities for the public to know their candidates and the issues. Members include Michael Meuers, Brad Swenson, John Parsons, Dennis Montgomery, Maggie Montgomery, Mike Naylor, Pat Grimes, Barb Meuers and Rachelle Houle.

-- Thursday, Oct. 14 -- 6 p.m. Legislative forum with candidates from Senate Districts 2 and 4 and House Districts 2B and 4A.

- Wednesday, Oct, 20 -- 6 p.m. 9th Judicial District forum for two judgeships for Clearwater and Beltrami County courts.

7:30 p.m. -- Bemidji School Board candidate forum, three positions to fill on the ballot with eight candidates.

- Tuesday, Oct. 26 -- 6 p.m. Beltrami County District 1 commissioner forum.

7:30 p.m. Beltrami County sheriff candidates.

- Wednesday, Oct. 27 -- 6 p.m. Bemidji City Council Wards 2 and 4 candidates forum.

7:30 p.m. Bemidji City Council at-large and mayoral candidates debate.