Sun, Dec. 15

Forums designed to educate voters<br><i>League of Women Voters set Verde Valley forums</i>

Staff photo by Philip Wright

Judy Miller, chair of voter services for the League of Women Voters of Sedona-Verde Valley, said the league may hold as many as 15 candidate and issue forums during the current election year. The league will hold forums for local, county, state and federal candidates and issues.

"We're looking at as many as 15 forums this year," said Judy Miller, chair of voter services. "In '02 we did 17, and that wasn't even a national election year."

The first forums of the election year will deal with city and town councils.

"We have three forums for local town elections," Miller said.

Those will be Jan. 28 at the fire station in Jerome; Feb. 2 at Yavapai College, 5215 Village Arts Drive, in Sedona; and Feb. 5 at Clarkdale-Jerome Elementary School in Clarkdale. All three forums will begin at 7 p.m.

The primary election for councils will be March 9, and all three town elections will be mail-in voting only.

Informing voters has been one of the league's primary objectives since its inception in 1920.

"The same women who fought for the right to vote started the league," Miller said.

She said that as soon as women won the right to vote, it became obvious they also needed motivation and enlightenment. Consequently, the league was formed to address those important needs. The league also became involved in nonpartisan issues, such as child labor and civil service, according to Miller.

Now, voter education and studies of issues are the two main purposes of the league, which began allowing men into full membership in 1976.

"We'll be holding forums for county, state, and federal elections in late July and August," Miller said. The dates will be announced.

For an election to be covered by a league forum, the office in question must be contested. For example, Miller said no one is challenging Chip Davis for his county supervisor's seat. Also, there are no local referendums at this time. She said that if new candidates are announced or issues show up on local ballots, those will be included in the forums.

"We know we're going to have a sheriff's race," Miller said. "That should be a hot little forum."

The league's forums are more of question and presentation structure than a debate, Miller said. "We don't really run debates. The candidates end up talking to the audience," she said. "We have a tight script that we follow."

In September and October, the league will hold forums for candidates in the general election, and for initiatives and referendums.

"On ballot issues, we make every effort to get the pro and con," Miller said. "We don't know yet how many there will be for this year."

Miller said the league is political but nonpartisan. Even so, she said there is one issue the league will be openly behind this year. Miller expects an attempt by some state legislators to repeal the Clean Elections law, which the league strongly supported.

"We'll be advocating for Clean Elections this year," Miller said.

Dates, times and locations for forums will be announced in The Verde Independent.

For membership information, contact the League of Women Voters of Sedona-Verde Valley at PO Box 966, Sedona, AZ 86339.

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