What is a Candidate Forum?
A Candidate Forum is a meeting to gather the community, whether virtually or in person, to hear all of the candidates for a particular race in the community. Every year state and local Leagues host candidate forums, debates and “meet and greet” events for candidates running at all levels of government, from congressional races to statewide offices, city government, local school boards, and everything in between.
Why do we present Candidate Forums?
Hearing and seeing candidates answer questions from the League and community or to engage in healthy debates before an election is an important part of our democracy. Candidate debates and forums help us determine which candidates align with our values and which ones we want to support with our votes. Due to our deep roots and long history of nonpartisanship, our community has put its trust in the League to host these events.
Who presents a Candidate Forum?
In the Collier County LWV, we work with other non-profit organizations to share the work of presenting candidate forums. During the 2022 election year, we work with Naples Better Government (NBG), Greater Naples Leadership (GNL) and the Collier Citizen Council (CCC) with each group taking the lead role in organizing and presenting the forums. This group is generally referred to as the “Collier County Forum Coalition”. Participation by the League in the Forum Coalition must be approved by the LWVCC Board. In previous years, the League has worked with up to 7 other organizations to share this work of community education.
What is the mission of the Collier County Forum Coalition?
During election years, each non-profit organization represented in the Forum Coalition must agree to present a non-partisan forum to the community. Only contested races are included. The responsibility of sponsoring the various races is shared by the coalition members and generally include the races of:
• Naples City Council and Naples City Mayor
• Collier School Board
• Collier County Commissioners
• Florida State Senator
• Florida House District Representatives
• Congressional Districts in Collier County
• Judicial races if contested
In addition, when there are referenda to be voted upon in the off-year or general elections, a member organization of the Forum Coalition works to present factual matter about the referendum issues.
What work is necessary to present a Candidate Forum?
An organization presenting a forum must:
• Identify a venue and date
• Invite Candidates/ participants and public
• Secure a moderator and timekeepers
• Obtain biographical information from candidates
• Prepare a flyer for publicity purposes
• Solicit and screen questions on relevant issues from member organizations
• Prepare a program as desired
• Distribute flyers, announcements, LTEs, press releases and media articles
• Manage the logistics of the Forum (Security, banners, water, name tents, greeters, prepare a script, arrange technical televising as desired)
• All aspects of the forum must be done in a non-partisan manner