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In The Public Interest: Voters Informed By Candidate Forums Held By Local League Of Women Voters

Lisa Barry

On "In The Public Interest," our bi-weekly conversation with the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area, 89.1 WEMU'S Lisa Barry talks with Donna Crudder of the local league about their ongoing candidate public forums.

Donna Crudder is an LWVAAA member and a member of its board of directors.  As a board member, she oversees LWVAAA voter services programs, including candidate forums which she talks about in this week's "In The Public Interest."

Voter education is a core focus of the League (the other being advocacy on public policy), and the candidate forums are one of its cornerstone programs.  Their local candidate forums started in the 1940s and were very simple compared to today.  At a national level, from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s, the League of Women Voters Education Fund was instrumental in reviving the tradition of public presidential debates. 

Building on and extending this work, the local league continues to sponsor and organize forums that allow voters to learn more about candidates for local office.  It sponsors and organizes candidate forums because voters need information about who and what they are voting for.  The forums highlight key local issues so that voters can be prepared to make informed decisions.  Along with the Vote411.org project, the candidate forums directly serve the public so that they can learn about issues in our county and candidates’ positions on those issues.

Last year, 9000 people watched the forums broadcast on Ann Arbor’s CTN (Community Television Network), demonstrating the public’s interest in learning about the candidates who are bidding to be their mayors, city council members, county commissioners, state representatives, and state senators.  This year, LWVAAA-organized and -sponsored candidate forums will reach voters in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Brighton, and Tecumseh.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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