WANTED INFORMATIVE CANDIDATE AND ISSUE FORUMS
All candidates and questions that will appear on election ballots in Westfield should have forums that would provide residents, voters and seniors with an opportunity to learn about candidates and issues.
Unfortunately, the forums sponsored by The Westfield Evening News, the Chamber of Commerce and held in one of our public schools or Senior Center have become less informative over time, or not held at all. For example, during the last municipal election, a question to extend the term of Mayor to four years was placed on the ballot by the City. Very little information appeared in the local media, and little effort was made to inform citizens on this important decision to change a city ordinance, which would have a profound affect on election turnout and our form of government. There was no forum and the only significant attempt to inform residents and voters was made by me, with signs and a citywide mailing. The ballot question was not easy to see on the ballot, as it was placed at the bottom, in small letters. The forums and formats have been controlled and contrived affairs, with little opportunity for residents, seniors or the business community to ask questions, or to learn much about the candidates and important issues. As a result, and partly due to promotion and scheduling, these forums are poorly attended, and of limited value to the residents. There are four candidates running for Mayor this year. I sent an email to all those involved in hosting or planning past forums, asking if there is one planned. The answers ranged from the Westfield News, now controlled by The Republican, was “not able to put together a preliminary election forum” to “not that I am aware of” or it is an issue of timing and scheduling. All in all, there does not seem to be a lot of interest in this issue in Westfield. I would strongly encourage the people of Westfield to make their voices heard on important issues. And while there are some worthwhile attempts by citizens to provide space on social media, it is far past the time for the residents of Westfield, business owners, seniors and civic organizations to hold candidate and issue forums. These could even be planned in advance to allow for preliminaries and other important issues that come up.
During the last few years, the idea was floated of forming a Westfield Taxpayers Association that could take up the mantel.
I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. Edward Everett Hale – American author and Unitarian clergyman.
Lets choose to be a voice and do something
The Westfield News is partnering with the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce and the Westfield Council on Aging to sponsor City Council and School Committee candidate forums in late October. The Westfield News and The Republican are working in conjunction on a mayoral candidate forum as well. The Westfield News will cover the local elections, including profiles of every candidate the week prior to the November election. If anyone in the community would like to offer their suggested questions for candidates, please send them to [email protected] by Oct. 1.