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Republican Senate candidates forum set for July 18

Alex Doty • Jul 14, 2018 at 2:00 PM

With the statewide primary election right around the corner, voters will have a chance next week to get to know the candidates running for the Michigan Senate 30th District seat, currently held by the term-limited Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive.

The event is slated to take place Wednesday, July 18, at Loutit District Library’s Program Room A/B. It will begin at 7 p.m.

Invited to attend are candidates Rett DeBoer, Daniela Garcia, Joe Haveman and Roger Victory. All four are Republicans.

“We’re trying to set something up where we really give people an opportunity to find out who these people are,” said Field Reichardt, who has helped organize the event.

The League of Women Voters of the Holland area hosted a forum with the four Republican candidates on July 11 at Herrick District Library in Holland.

The format will differ from those conducted by the League of Women Voters, Reichardt noted.

“At the very beginning, each of the candidates is going to ask the audience a couple of show-of-hands questions,” he said. “The candidates themselves will get an idea of what kind of an audience they are talking to.”

From there, it will move on to the questioning of 5-7 topics, which have been submitted by a number of individuals who’ve been invited to the event. While candidates will be made aware of the topics to be discussed, they won’t know the specific questions related to each issue.

In an order randomly selected by the candidates, the four Republicans will be asked a question on each topic. Each candidate will be asked to comment on the question, and then discuss the issue amongst themselves.

“The idea is that the candidates will share their knowledge and share where they’re coming from,” Reichardt explained. “They will have a chance to share their knowledge, share where they stand, and show where they disagree.”

After the candidates have answered the prepared questions, there will be time for the audience to pose questions to them.

Reichardt noted that getting information to the voters about the candidates is important, as even though the person chosen to be the next senator isn’t determined until November, the Aug. 7 primary has historically had high stakes in Ottawa County.

“The primary election, even though it’s officially a primary election, the person who wins the (Republican) primary is almost guaranteed to be the elected official in November,” he said.

Reichardt added that with only a quarter of the local electorate expected to vote in the August primary, and with four candidates running for the Republican nomination, a few percentage points could make all the difference in deciding who wins.

“Most of the people coming to this haven’t decided how they are voting,” he said.

Wednesday night’s forum also gives the candidates a chance to see that the issues and concerns of voters in the district aren’t all the same, Reichardt said.

“If they’re going to be representing the county, they need to listen to the voters up here,” he said.

Democratic candidate Jeanette Schipper and Libertarian Mary Buzuma will also be on the Nov. 6 ballot with the winner of next month’s Republican primary for the 30th District seat.

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