City candidates forum set

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 30, 2005

Time is running out for voters to decipher the local battles they will decide upon in the Nov. 8 election. Fortunately, the Ironton Co-Operative Club is ready to help.

The club, a civic group of local women, will sponsor a &#8220Meet the Candidates” forum to give voters the chance to see for themselves who is running in two of Ironton's most-heated races.

Focusing on the Ironton City Council and the Ironton Municipal Judge races, the public forum will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Ohio University Southern's Bowman Auditorium.

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&#8220This will allow people to see, side by side, how the candidates respond to questions and how the candidates would represent (the voters),” said Cheryl Willis, an event organizer and Co-Op member. &#8220The Co-Op club is about education so we encourage kids and schools to come out and learn about our government.”

Four seats are open on Ironton's City Council. Newcomers include Rich Blankenship, former mayor Bob Cleary, Devon Harmon, Ralph Huff, Leo Johnson, Rick Meeks and Raymond Murphy. Incumbents seeking office are Robert Isaac, William Nenni and Brent Pyles. Current chairman Jim Tordiff opted not to run.

The Ironton Municipal Court race features incumbent O. Clark Collins Jr. and longtime attorney and assistant prosecutor Kevin Waldo.

The audience will have a chance to submit written questions for the candidates. Each candidate will get a chance to respond. The candidates will have a few minutes to introduce themselves and explain their views.

Bob Smith, assistant dean for development at OUS and former WSAZ news anchor, will moderate the forum. Organizers expect a packed house.

&#8220I think it was standing room only last time,” Willis said. &#8220That is what we are expecting again.”

One thing visitors won't see on the agenda is the highly debated tax levy that seeks funds to build new schools and tear down Ironton High School. School district officials declined to participate in the event because they said the bond levy issue is different than the other items on the agenda.

&#8220It is a ‘meet the candidates' night. It is an opportunity to meet the candidates in these partisan political races. This is not a race. This is a non-partisan issue,” Ironton Superintendent Dean Nance said.

&#8220There is not a winner and a loser. There is a winner or a loser. If you vote ‘yes,' the children and the city win. If you vote ‘no,' everyone loses. There are not two issues on the ballot.”

Organizers of the grass-roots Save our Schools Committee disagree with the idea that there are not two sides to the plan and said they offered to participate.

&#8220Obviously, we are disappointed. The public should have the opportunity to learn all the info before making such a momentous decision,” local attorney Mark McCown said, adding that the committee had tried unsuccessfully to work on a compromise plan. &#8220Š What people have to understand is that voting ‘no' at this time won't kill our chances for money. There is still so much misinformation. We need to have some concrete commitments for the school board so people will know what they are voting on.”