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Candidate forums planned to discuss issues

BEMIDJI – Numerous forums are planned in the coming weeks for local and state candidates appearing on ballots for the Nov. 6 general election.

The Citizens for an Informed Electorate Committee (CIE) will be sponsoring four candidate forums at Bemidji City Hall for partisan and non-partisan local offices. Forums will be broadcast on both city cable systems.

The League of Women Voters will sponsor forums, moderated by Roy Blackwood, this week. The forums, also at Bemidji City Hall, will be televised by Channel 2.


Starting at 7 p.m., candidates for Beltrami County Commission will participate in a League of Women Voters forum. Bemidji Area School Districts will participate in a forum following commissioner candidates.  The public is invited to attend and submit written questions to the candidates.


CIE’s non-partisan forum for District 31 School Board candidates begins at 6 p.m.  Candidates Paula DeClusin, Jeff Haack, Dana Kuzel, Ann Long Voelkner, John Pugleasa, John Truedson, and Rob Warmboe are scheduled to participate. Three seats will be on the ballot. 


Candidates for Bemidji’s mayoral seat and city council will participate in a League of Women Voters forum beginning at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend and submit written questions to the candidates.

Oct. 23

CIE hosts candidates Quentin Fairbanks and Tim Sumner, who are vying for County Commissioner District 4, at 6 p.m. The 9th Judicial District candidates for judge, John Melbye and Diana Sweeney, will have a forum at 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 24

City Council Ward 1 candidates Derrick Houle and Michael Meehlhaus and Ward 5 candidates Nancy Erickson and Greg Negard will field questions during a CIE forum beginning at 6 p.m. Mayoral candidates David Larson and Rita Albrecht will participate in a forum starting at 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 30

Candidates for state legislative seats in districts 2 and 5 will meet for forums sponsored by CIE.

For Senate District 2, Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL, and Dennis Moser, R, are paired, while Rep. Dave Hancock, R, and Roger Erickson, DFL, match up for House District 2A. The forum begins at 6 p.m.

Starting at 7:30 p.m., District 5 candidates take questions.  Sens. John Carlson, R, and Tom Saxhaug, DFL, are running for Senate, while Rep. Larry Howes, R, and John Persell, DFL, face each other for the House District 5A seat.    

For the CIE forums, candidates will be allowed opening and closing statements. Moderators will collect question cards from the audience, screen them for duplication or inappropriateness, and direct them to candidates.

The questions should cover the gamut of issues, as the forums are open to the general public.

The forums will be broadcast on cable First City TV, and recorded for later streaming on Northern Community Internet and re-broadcast by Upstream TV.

CIE was formed by volunteers in 2008.

radio forums

In addition to the public forums, community radio stations 91.7 KAXE (Grand Rapids) and 90.5 KBXE (Bagley-Bemidji) plan to broadcast forums for District 5 candidates.

“This election year, state legislative districts in northern Minnesota have some dramatically different new boundaries, and no district was more thoroughly reorganized than Senate District 5,” Morning Show host Scott Hall said in a news release. “This new district, running from Bemidji to the western Iron Range to Pine River, is unique in that all six candidates for three seats are incumbents are challenging each other: six incumbents in all, and only three will return to St. Paul.”

Hall will moderate the following forums from 8:15-9 a.m. on Thursdays:

-- Senate District 5, Carlson and Saxhaug this Thursday

-- House District 5B candidates Tom Anzelc, DFL, and Carolyn McElfatrick, R, on Oct. 25

-- House District 5A candidates Howes and Persell on Nov. 1

Listeners are welcome to send questions for the candidates prior to the broadcasts to