Nearly all of the 14 candidates for county offices have committed to appear in the upcoming debates sponsored by the Kiowa County Signal and the Kiowa County Chamber of Commerce.
The pair of debates, scheduled for July 26 at the Haviland Hardware Store and Aug. 3 at the Kiowa County Senior Center, will be attended by 12 of the 13 invited candidates.
“I think it shows tremendous commitment by all of the candidates that will take part in the debates,” said Kiowa County Signal Editor Patrick Clement. “These types of forums can be a bit scary for candidates, especially those who may not be the best public speakers. Candidates who are willing to debate policy and opinion in an open forum should be commended.”
The Thursday, July 26, debate at the Haviland Hardware Store in Haviland, beginning at 7 p.m., will be attended by county clerk candidates Kristie Odle (R-Mullinville) and Marilyn Brown (R-Greensburg); county attorney candidates Candace Lattin (R-Iuka) and J. Scott James (R-Spearville); county sheriff candidates Kendal Lothman (R-Haviland) and P.J. Alvarez (R-Greensburg) and uncontested county register of deeds candidate Karen Butler (R-Haviland) will also attend.
Uncontested district magistrate judge candidate Ann L. Dixson (R-Greensburg) and uncontested county treasurer candidate Brenda Osborne (R-Haviland) were invited but will not attend.
The Friday, Aug. 3, debate at the Kiowa County Senior Center in Greensburg, beginning at 7 p.m. will be attended by all five of the county commissioner candidates including District II candidates Gene West (R-Greensburg), Bert Lowery (R-Haviland) and Bonnie Kuhn (D-Greensburg); and District III candidates Ron Freeman (R-Mullinville) and Earl Liggett (D-Greensburg).
Both debates will last approximately 45 minutes and will be the only opportunity for county candidates to openly debate policy before the Aug. 7 primary election.
Clement and a Kiowa County Chamber of Commerce representative will moderate the debates.
The format of the debates will be different than in previous years.
County residents will not be able to ask questions during the debate with The Signal and the chamber having solicited questions from county residents prior to the debate.
“There has been some questions about the change in the debate format,” said Clement. “This is a standard, classic format. It forces candidates to respond to questions in a concise manner by limiting answer times. But it also allows opponents the opportunity to debate issues back-and-forth in a respectful manner. It will keep the debate on pace and on target.”