Republicans at odds with LWV agree to forum led by students

State candidates who rejected League of Women Voters offer will participate in Concordia University event
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

The three incumbents seeking re-election to Assembly seats representing Ozaukee County who declined to participate in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Ozaukee County have announced they will take part in a forum sponsored by Concordia University Wisconsin’s Student Government Association.

All the candidates seeking the Assembly’s 23rd, 24th and 60th district seats have been invited to the forum, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 at the Mequon campus.

Rep. Rob Brooks, who represents the 60th District, said that the incumbents did not agree to the League forum because their two conditions  — that one forum be held for all the seats instead of individual sessions for each district, and that a second, independent moderator take part — were not met.

“All we asked for was a neutral party to make sure it was not slanted one way or the other,” he said, adding that the League of Women Voters is not a non-partisan group.

In a letter to the editor in this week’s Ozaukee Press, the legislators — Brooks, Jim Ott of Mequon and Dan Knodl of Germantown — were more emphatic, saying, “To be clear, the League of Women Voters is a group of left-leaning activists masquerading as a non-partisan group.”

All but three of the League’s board members signed the petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, he said, and many have attended events for the challengers in the races.

When negotiations were ongoing for the League forum, Brooks said, a number of potential partners were suggested, including Concordia.

So when the League announced it would not hold a forum for the Nov. 6 election because it could not reach an agreement with the incumbent state representatives, it seemed a logical choice to go with Concordia for the debate, Brooks said.

“I would think they’re about as neutral as you get, way more neutral than the League of Women Voters,” he said. “We said if Concordia is willing to host an event, let’s do it.”

The forum will be moderated by Sarah Holtan, director of the department of communication, according to the Student Government Association. Questions will be generated prior to the debate with the best ones being selected for the debate itself.

The forum is primarily aimed at students, but is open to the general public.

While the League has been hosting candidate forums for years, Brooks said he sees no issue with participating in one led by students instead.

“I don’t see a problem with that,” he said. 

Brooks said the legislators believe that one forum would provide voters with a glimpse into the range of views the incumbents hold, even though they each belong to the Republican party, and would ensure a better turnout.

The Democratic challengers are Liz Sumner of Fox Point, Emily Siegrist of River Hills and Chris Rahlf of Cedarburg.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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