News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 18, 2008

Max Jones: Forum will help you get to know spring candidates

With the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in full frenzy, you probably don’t need to be reminded that Indiana’s primary election is just over three weeks away.

But you may need a reminder that Obama and Clinton aren’t the only candidates on the ballot. A strange side effect of the ongoing battle for the 72 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention is that contested state and local races that normally dominate this election cycle are being muscled out of voter consciousness by the presidential race.

There’s still time, of course. The Tribune-Star hasn’t yet launched its extensive local coverage of the candidates and races on the Vigo County ballot this year. That won’t begin for another week or so. Experience tells us most voters don’t tune in to local races until the last couple weeks before Election Day, so that’s how we tailor our coverage.

Fact is, the Vigo County ballot is crammed with interesting local races and an impressive list of candidates. The races for seats on the County Council alone have 19 candidates. Seven more are running for two county commissioner seats. One of the more interesting courthouse office races is the four-candidate battle for the Democratic nomination for Recorder.

Even Republicans are getting in on the action this year with some contested races on the GOP primary ballot.

There are lots of things for voters to consider this year. The time is rapidly approaching to focus on those races so that sound, informed decisions can be made on Election Day.

The Tribune-Star and the League of Women Voters of Vigo County are collaborating on an event that we hope will help voters get to know more about the candidates and the offices they’re pursuing.

The League and the newspaper will co-host a “meet your candidates” forum on Tuesday, April 29, at 7 p.m. in the Vigo County Public Library.

Candidates for Vigo County Council and commissioner have been invited to be special guests at the forum.

Because there are 26 candidates for these seats in the primary, there won’t be a lot of time during the event for any of them to speak at length about issues. But there will be discussions, and each candidate participating will have an opportunity to introduce themselves and take a minute to tell the audience why they are running for public office and present their qualifications.

While the opportunity for a wide-ranging discussion of issues and an exchange of views won’t be possible in this format, candidates will be asked to answer some randomly selected questions from voters. So if you would like to submit a question for council or commissioner candidates, please send them to me via e-mail or postal mail by Monday, April 28. Find the addressees at the bottom of this column.

The questions we receive in advance, or from the audience the night of the event, will be placed in a jar and drawn out by a moderator for each candidate. Keep questions general so that any candidate can answer. There will only be 30 seconds for responses, and keeping questions simple will be appreciated.

This isn’t the best format for political discussion, but it will at least provide voters a chance to meet the candidates and get some personal exposure to them.

Max Jones can be reached at (812)

231-4336, by e-mail at max.jones@, or postal mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808.