Candidates say ‘no thanks’ to League debate

Citing concerns over the general objectivity of the League of Women Voters Eastern Carver County (LWVECC), four candidates for Carver County Commissioner have informed the League that they will not participate in a debate forum that was to focus on all five county commissioner districts to be held in Chaska on Tuesday, Oct. 2.
The candidates — Tom Workman (District 2), Vince Beaudette (District 3), Frank Long (District 4) and Jim Walter (District 5), all self-described Republicans — indicated that if the League were to include a partner in the event, such as a Tea Party organization or the Voices of Conservative Women, they would reconsider the invitation.
In response, the League cancelled the event, as explained by Marcia Eland, Voter Service Chairwoman for the LWVECC, in an email to the Waconia Patriot.
“Because these four candidates have declined, we have had to cancel the candidate forums for Districts 2-5 even though their opponents agreed to participate,” she said. “As we are a nonpartisan organization, we cannot hold a candidate forum to the benefit of one candidate.”
The League will still hold a debate forum for District 1 with incumbent Gayle Degler and challenger John Siegfried since both candidates accepted the invitation to the original event. The District 1 debate forum will be held at the Chaska Government Center at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18. This event will follow the League’s forum for Senate District 47, which starts at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend both events.
In an open letter sent to the LWVECC that was written by Long and included the names of the other three candidates, doubts were raised about the League’s ability and/or willingness to hold a truly non-partisan event. Long cited numerous examples, some found on the League’s websites, that he believes point to a liberal bias for the organization.
“While (the League’s state website) asserts that (the League is) a non partisan organization, due to your ‘official’ non- endorsement of individuals or political parties, your organization takes a decidedly leftist view on policy and partnerships,” wrote Long, who noted the right-leaning tendencies of many Carver County voters.
Long wrote that allowing another group or organization to help run the event “could bring an even-handedness or parity to a forum that many Carver County conservatives have not considered legitimate.”
“As all but one Carver County commissioner candidate claims to be Republican (another may be an independent), a debate ‘moderated’ by a less liberal leaning organization would seem logical and more representative of Carver County’s voting base,” Long wrote.
“Independents such as the Southwest Metro Tea Party or another entity may very well serve our county better than an organization that won’t admit to it’s leanings,” he said.
In response to Long’s letter and the candidates’ decision to not attend the event, Eland sent a letter focusing on “the high standards that LWVECC uses when conducting candidate forums as well as our strong history in the community.”
“We were surprised to receive the email from the four candidates declining our offer to hold a candidate forum for them,” said Eland, noting that she has been a member of the League for more than 12 years. “This is the first time I am aware of that we have ever had this type of response. Occasionally a candidate has another commitment or fails to respond, but this is rare.”
Eland contended that the League has never received any complaints in the past.
“It takes a lot of time, effort, and volunteers to put on a candidate forum,” she said. “The forums are taped and can be viewed online and on cable TV. We provide the candidate forums as a public service, so that voters can learn more about the candidates and candidates have a broader audience for their message. Most candidates appreciate the opportunity to meet the constituents.”
Eland said the League is careful to write neutral questions that give the candidates the opportunity to explain their views on local issues. Long disagreed, writing that the League’s premise on most questions presumes agreement with its “world view.”
“Most … Carver County residents don’t agree with the liberal/progressive point of view, so as with (the League’s) questions, to appoint yourself the authority on voting and elections in Carver County is presumptuous and overreaching,” he wrote.
Eland defended the League’s debate history and invited citizens to watch its last Carver County Commissioner Candidate Forum from 2010 at http://vimeo.com/album/1120970/video/14993277.
In the general election, Workman is running against Cheryl Ayotte in District 2, Beaudette is challenging incumbent Randy Maluchnik for District 3, Long is facing incumbent Tim Lynch in District 4, and Walter is running against incumbent James Ische in District 5.
Ayotte noted that she was willing to participate in the forum.
“These four, particularly my opponent, are taking the positions they are taking for one of two reasons. They don’t know what a commissioner does or they are throwing a veil over other issues they do not want to come to the surface,” she said.
Maluchnik said he was willing to travel anywhere to debate his opponent or any of the commissioner candidates.
Lynch expressed his disappointment about not being able to participate in the event.
“I think it’s odd you’d run for public office and not agree to attend a debate,” he said, noting that the League has traditionally hosted these debates over the years. “They televise this and get your message out in front of the voters. If you disagree with the host, you have the opportunity right there to explain that.”
Ische said he was surprised and disappointed to hear about the event’s cancellation.
“I’ve been through a variety of these with the League,” said Ische, who added he felt the League was fair and did a good job of screening questions at past events. Ische said the debates are a great forum for candidates to get exposure in front of the voters, especially considering the debates are repeatedly shown on television.

Eland letter

Over the next several weeks LWV Eastern Carver County will be conducting eight candidate forums, as a service to voters and to the candidates for office. We invite the public to attend. We are a nonpartisan organization, which simply means “we do not support or oppose a political party or a candidate for office.” LWV Eastern Carver County has a longstanding history in our community of providing nonpartisan information that is respected and widely used by Minnesotan voters, regardless of their political beliefs.
Our organization has also taken positions over the years on policies of interest to our members. We have been diligent in ensuring that those positions never interfere with our ability to provide candidate information that voters can trust, and when conducting candidate forums we ensure all candidates are treated fairly and respectfully. Although local leagues around the state may co-sponsor candidate forums with other nonpartisan community organizations, we do not co-sponsor candidate forums with organizations that support or oppose a political party or a candidate for office.
Here are examples of the precautions we take to maintain our high standards:
• We use trained and certified Moderators
• We use experienced time keepers.
• All candidates are given equal time for opening and closing statements and to respond to questions.
• All candidates are given equal opportunity to answer all questions (even if a question from the audience is directed to one candidate.)
• Candidate responses are in alternating order so no one candidate has the benefit of the first or last word on every question.
• All candidates agree to the same guidelines.
LWV Eastern Carver County prepares the first set of questions for the candidates and then questions from the audience are read by the moderator. We often have more questions than time, so here are some tips to make sure that your question is asked:
• Questions should be clear, concise, and legible
• Questions should be relevant to the candidate’s office (for example:  federal policy questions are not relevant to city council candidates)
• Questions can be directed to a specific candidate, but should not contain personal attacks
• Questions should be submitted in a timely fashion
If your question is not asked or if the candidates do not have time to fully address it, please speak with or contact the candidates after the forum. They want to hear from you!
Information about the upcoming candidate forums can be found on the LWV Minnesota website www.lwvmn.org and information about the candidates can be found at www.Vote411.org. A paper Voter Guide will also be available in October.
The candidate forum is an opportunity for candidates to tell their constituents more about themselves, their background and experience, and to speak out on the issues in their own words. LWV Eastern Carver County would like to thank the candidates for their willingness to serve our communities and for their willingness to participate in these forums.
Sincerely,
Marcia Eland
Voter Service Chair, LWV Eastern Carver County

Long letter

Open Letter to the League of Women Voters of Carver County,

In reference to your invitation to participate in the Oct. 13 Debate Forum.  You had stated in an earlier email that you would be contacting us after the Primary Election, as this was received only via USPS, we the Candidates running for the position of County Commissioner (as listed below) have with long and thoughtful consideration, choose to reply to your original invitation. We have reservations about participating in your forum. While your State website asserts that you are a non partisan organization, due to your “official” non- endorsement of individuals or political parties, your organization takes a decidedly leftist view on policy and partnerships. The following are examples of The League of Women Voters Minnesota policy positions.
The LWVMN supported the Organized Labor position on Right to Work Legislation in the last legislative session. An extensive internet search has failed to find an example of the LWVMN ever opposing a Organized Labor position.
The LWVMN opposed letting voters decide if they wanted a special interest group redefining the meaning of marriage. Having lost that battle, you are now in support of the organizations that are twisting the message to one of hate, instead of protecting traditional marriage. An unbiased organization only concerned with equal protection would advocate a civil union solution, not seek to propagandize an issue passed in 32 of our 50 States.
The LWVMN has produced a 17 minute “educational” video that ignores the facts about discrepancies in our voter registration process, such as thousands of voters who cannot be verified as to place of residence or often, existence. These facts are acknowledged by the USPS as well as the Secretary of States office, when questioned directly. Your position is an exact mirror image of the democrat party. In spite of tens of thousands of verified voting irregularities in the last decade alone, in a system that does not lend itself to confirmation and verification, you promote the false narrative that there is no problem.  This is an irresponsible position when dealing with something as important as the legitimacy and value of each legal vote. In our opinion your “educational” video is a damaging, partisan disservice to any Minnesotan who views it.  The League of Women Voters distribution of this propaganda through our public library system and your exploitation of our seniors at assisted living facilities, all the while continuing to misrepresent your organization as objective is not only disingenuous, but a deceptive fraudulent fabrication . Unfortunately this ongoing mission of misinformation has been perpetuated by those who are afraid to challenge your long standing organization, and the general public’s lack of familiarity with your consistently liberal positions.
Also on the League of Women Voters Minnesota website:
Gun Control: “LWVMN Support restrictions on the sale, possession and use of firearms by private parties in the state of Minnesota .” At odds with our 2nd amendment rights.
Healthcare: “LWVMN favors a national health insurance plan financed through general taxes in place of individual insurance premiums.(1993)”.   Forced Government Healthcare.
Immigration: “LWVMN supports incorporating immigrants into our communities by providing access to education, by endorsing the development of secure identification documents, and by respecting the right of law enforcement personnel to perform their duties without the burden of interpreting federal immigration policies.  Oppose residents with legal immigrant status running for local office.” Equating legal and illegal immigrants as the same.  /Advocating law enforcement to ignore Federal Immigration law.
We have either have attended or participated in several of your debates, we along with many of our like minded friends have submitted questions at these debates. Our questions are mostly geared to differentiating the candidates philosophy’s. They are well written by informed and involved citizens. They are never chosen. Instead we have sat though questions concerning mining issues (appropriate for the 8th district) and implementation of social justice, a concept that first should be defined and then debated as to necessity or value in a government setting, not delivered as a integrated societal norm. Your premise on most questions presumes an agreement with your world view, most of Carver County residents don’t agree with the liberal/progressive point of view, so as with your questions, to appoint yourself the authority on voting and elections in Carver County is presumptuous and overreaching.
We have agreed that we would consider participating only if you partnered with an organization that could balance your point of view, say a Tea Party organization or possibly the Voices of Conservative Women could bring an even-handedness or parity to a forum that many Carver County Conservatives have not considered legitimate. Fortunately, there are other venues available for people to hear the candidate’s plans, focus, and ability to debate their positions on the issues. As all but one Carver County commissioner candidate claims to be Republican (another may be an independent), a debate “moderated” by a less liberal leaning organization would seem logical and more representative of Carver County’s voting base.  Independents such as the Southwest Metro Tea Party or another entity may very well serve our County better than an organization that won’t admit to it’s leanings.
And on the League of Women Voters National Website:
The League believes that the United States should “promote peace in an interdependent world by working cooperatively with other nations and strengthening international organizations”. The league is a strong supporter of the United Nations.   This puts the League of Women Voters at odds with an “ America first” strong position of Nationalism. While always an important attitude, it is  needed now more than ever in this economy where the US must compete with other Nations that do support and even subsidize industries that compete with ours. The United Nations voting record has not been respectful of our status as a sovereign nation, trying to force gun control, seeking to regulate our use of free market resources, proposing to impose carbon taxes, immigration law and many other policies that do not serve the citizens of the United States.
The League supports a general income tax increase to finance national health care reform for the inclusion of reproductive health care, including abortion, in any health benefits package. Taking a stand against States Rights and Pro-life positions.  Hardly objective or unbiased.
The League advocates affirmative action programs for minorities and women and opposes private school vouchers.
The League supports a system for unauthorized (illegal) immigrants already in the country to earn legal status, including citizenship.
The League could support deficit spending, if necessary, for stimulating the economy and opposes across-the-board federal spending cuts except for reductions in defense spending. The League opposes a balanced budget constitutional amendment.  Mirror image of the Democrat Party.  There is no difference.
The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the proliferation of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons in the United States is a major health and safety threat to its citizens. The League supports strong federal measures to limit the accessibility and regulate the ownership of these weapons by private citizens. The League supports regulating firearms for consumer safety and supports licensing procedures for gun ownership.
Mirror image of the Democrat Party.  There is no difference.
The League supported the Climate Security Act of 2008 (cap and trade) and policies that limit reliance on nuclear fission. The league opposes the proposed Keystone Pipeline project.   Mirror image of the Democrat Party.  There is no difference.
We are Republicans, we have a point of view that government takes and does too much. We have no faith that the League of Women Voters of Carver County are going to accept that point of view or ask questions that will allow us to talk about those values and viewpoints that are nearly polar opposite of what they (posing as an objective, unbiased organization) promote.
Therefore, barring an acceptance of our proposal to partner with an organization more representative of a more centrist view and the majority of Carver County Voters, we have decided to decline your invitation.

FrankLong, Candidate: Carver County Commissioner District 4
Vince Beaudette, Candidate: Carver County Commissioner District 3
Jim Walter, Candidate: Carver County Commissioner District 5
Tom Workman, Candidate: Carver County Commissioner District 2

  • Adam Rowan

    In Mr. Long’s letter, he points out that all but one of the candidates are Republican. If his premise is correct in that the League of Women Voters is really a Democrat leaning organization, wouldn’t it make more sense for that body to hold a debate rather than a Tea Party organization which falls lock step with some, but not all, of the candidates? If all of the candidates disagree, wouldn’t that put everyone on equal footing?

    Part of what is wrong with America today is that the art of respectful disagreement seems to be lost on some. The philosophy that if you do not agree with me 100%, I’m taking my ball home and not playing demonstrates that these gentlemen do not want to engage in dialogue to better their county, state and country in a way that will allow others to hear an opposing point of view. Not to mention, how does international politics play any roll in a county commissioner election?

up arrow