The Kiowa County Signal and the Kiowa County Chamber of Commerce will co-sponsor a pair of county election debates in Greensburg and Haviland on July 26 and August 3.
“The Signal has a long history of sponsoring local debates,” said Editor Patrick Clement. “This year has some fascinating races and we are excited to provide a forum for a lively, but respectful discussion of important county issues.”
In advance of the Tuesday, Aug. 7, countywide primary elections, The Signal and the chamber of commerce will sponsor the two events, which will showcase candidates in a town hall-style debate format.
On Thursday, July 26, Haviland Hardware will host the first of two debates inside their historic building in downtown Haviland. A large section of the store will be cleared so the old-fashioned general store can accommodate the candidates and attending audience.
“We chose the hardware store for a couple of reasons,” said Clement. “Local politics are debated around their coffee table almost everyday. Places like the hardware store are where most Americans talk about politics. It’s also a wonderful, comfortable atmosphere with a lot of county history. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not a traditional choice; we thought outside-the-box on this one.”
Candidates in contested races, including county sheriff, county clerk and county attorney will be invited to participate in the approximately 45-minute long debate that will begin at 7 p.m.
Candidates for uncontested races for county treasurer, magistrate judge and register of deeds will also be invited.
The second debate will be held on Friday, Aug. 3, at the newly constructed Kiowa County Senior Center building on Main Street in Greensburg.
The main room will host the debate between candidates for the 2nd and 3rd Commissioner Districts, which will begin at 7 p.m. and last approximately 45-minutes.
Republican primary candidates and the general election candidates will both be invited to participate in the event.
“The senior center is a great place to hold these debates,” said Clement. “Not only can it comfortably accommodate what we expect to be a sizable audience, but it’s an important part of the community. Our county seniors are an engaged, thoughtful and politically savvy group. They will be the perfect hosts.”
The Signal will solicit questions from the community until Monday, July 23, via letter, email, phone, fax or video. Haviland Hardware, The Kiowa County Senior Center and The Kiowa County Signal office will have question drop-off boxes.
Clement and members from the Kiowa County business community will moderate both of the debates and questions will be selected from received submissions.
Audience member will not be able to ask questions of the candidates during the debate.
“We want to address as many issues as we can in the time allotted,” added Clement. “Getting questions prior to the debate allows us to stay focused on the issues and address a higher volume of community questions. Also, this allows people who may feel uncomfortable standing up in a room full of people to have their question answered.”
The debates will follow a traditional format. Candidates will have opening and closing statements and will have time allotted to answer each question. There will also be time allotted for responses and rebuttals. Candidates will be notified by mail and phone before June 22.
The chamber will provide coffee and snacks for both events.
“These are the people that will make big decisions for every county resident for the next couple of years,” added Clement. “I hope people take this as an opportunity to become better informed and to participate. As far as I’m concerned it’s a ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’ kind of situation.”