To the Editor:
We want to sincerely thank the communities who hosted the League of Women Voters (LWV) Forums and the candidates that participated in the Forums this past weekend. We appreciated the large citizen turnout at the Forums on all four islands. All of you helped further the League's goal to give voters an opportunity to meet the candidates and learn where they stand on the wide range of issues facing our communities today.
We were disappointed, as were many of you, when some candidates chose not to appear. When a nonprofit organization such as the League of Women Voters sponsors a forum involving a Federal election, Federal regulations dictate some of what can and cannot be done. If only one candidate for a Federal office appears, and not his or her opponent, this is termed an "Empty Chair Debate" and the forum is disallowed. This regulation maintains our nonpartisan position.
State and Local races are not as highly regulated and our local League policy has always been to allow a statement to be read by a state or local candidate or a representative. Further, we do not allow a question and answer session with the candidate who does attend. Thus by choosing not to attend at the last moment the two absent candidates for state positions created "Empty Chairs" and denied the voters the opportunity for dialog.
We understand the difficulties of ferry travel and appearing four times, in four places, for one county. Given these restraints, the League strives to accommodate schedules to include the maximum number of candidates. Although the Forums this year had to go on without some of the candidates, most were there. The candidates were earnest. The debates were lively. The questions were thought-provoking. Again, our thanks to those who attended.
Please remember to return your ballot by November 2nd.
On behalf of the League of Women Voters of San Juan County