Candidate forums to give residents chances to ask questions

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 10, 2019

 The League of Women Voters Oakland Area’s Berkley candidate forums, featuring every mayoral and City Council hopeful, will take place Thursday, Sept. 19, at City Hall.

The League of Women Voters Oakland Area’s Berkley candidate forums, featuring every mayoral and City Council hopeful, will take place Thursday, Sept. 19, at City Hall.

Photo by Mike Koury

 Ferndale’s candidate forums will take place in the City Council chambers at City Hall on Monday, Sept. 16.

Ferndale’s candidate forums will take place in the City Council chambers at City Hall on Monday, Sept. 16.

Photo by Mike Koury

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FERNDALE/BERKLEY — Residents in the cities of Ferndale and Berkley soon will be able to have the chance to ask questions of mayoral and City Council candidates.

The League of Women Voters Oakland Area will be holding two candidate forums in both cities featuring every candidate running for elected office.

Ferndale’s candidate forums will be held starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, at City Hall, 300 E. Nine Mile Road. The first forum will feature the two candidates running for mayor, Melanie Piana and Brian Stawowy. It will take place from 6:30 to 7:05 p.m.

After it concludes, it will be followed by a forum featuring candidates running for two separate City Council seats. Running for two four-year seats on the council are Ben Buttolph, Nada Daher, Augusto Flores, Kat Bruner James and Raylon Leaks-May. Running for one two-year seat on the council are Rolanda Kelley, Laura Mikulski, Maryanne Wessels and Dennis Whittie. The forum will take place from 7:10 to 8:50 p.m.

The Berkley candidate forums will take place starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at City Hall, 3338 Coolidge Highway. They will have a similar setup to the Ferndale forums, with the two candidates for mayor, Robert B. Lathrop and Daniel Terbrack, answering questions from 6:30 to 7:10 p.m.

The City Council forum will follow soon after and will feature six candidates running for three open seats. Taking place from 7:15 to 8:45 p.m., it will feature Susan Citraro, Bridget Dean, Ross Gavin, Nitin Naidu, Natalie Price and Charles A. Tyrrell.

Patricia Finn, communications director with the League of Women Voters Oakland Area, said moderators will get questions from the audience, and the candidates will have a certain amount of time to respond to those questions. All forums are open to the public.

“We really want people to come out and participate,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who want to be informed.”

Director of Candidate Forums Jerry Burden said the league makes sure that moderators do not live or work in the community where a forum is taking place.

The nonpartisan forums will allow the candidates to present opening and closing statements. League members will screen the questions for relevancy, appropriateness and duplication to help move the forums along and avoid similar questions being asked.

Burden said the first question will go to the first candidate and continue to the others down the line. The second question will go to the second candidate and follow the same pattern.

“That way, nobody is ever first all the time or last all the time,” he said.

Burden thinks the forums will help residents when the time comes to vote Nov. 5.

“In local communities, many citizens are set on who they’re going to vote for, whether it’d be a friend or someone they know,” he said. “A lot of times, the people who show up are concerned. They’re aware of what’s going on in the community, and sometimes the answers that the people give turn the table, but I think it’s more of an educational thing of what’s going on in your community.”

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