By John L. Braese
The candidates have agreed on the date. The room has been reserved. All that is needed is an audience interested in the future.
Sponsored by the Malheur Enterprise, Election Forum’17 will be held Monday, April 24, at the Vale Elementary School starting at 6:30 p.m.
Attending will be board candidates for the Vale School District and Treasure Valley Community College.
Candidates will make short statements and then face questions about school issues from the moderator, Enterprise Publisher Les Zaitz. They will then face written questions submitted by the audience.
All three Vale board positions are contested, as are two of the community college seats. The level of competition for the volunteer positions is unusual.
“These smaller election are where a vote counts the most,” said Morman Turrill, president of the Oregon League of Women Voters. “We have fewer votes in these smaller elections and one vote really can make a difference. It has happened numerous times where the race comes down to one vote.”
Turrill said the league hosts candidate forums around the state, but since the league doesn’t have a formal organization in Malheur County, he is happy to see one in place for voters to get to know the candidates.
Turrill also said local elections are many times a stepping stone for loftier positions.
“Many of these candidates eventually go on to state or national positions, so this is a chance for voters to decide who may be their next state senator,” said Turrill. “This is beginning the hiring process for them.”
In the areas the league holds forums, Turrill said it is not unusual to gather up to 100 people in the audience.
“We are seeing participation in the local elections picking up a bit,” Turrill said. “In a presidential election of 100 million votes, it is tough to see your vote as counting. In these local elections, every single vote is needed by a candidate.”