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Events scheduled for April 28, May 3 and 10 will allow voters to learn about those running for county court offices

With the election nearing, two organizations will soon host candidate forums to help arm voters with information about those vying for positions in county government.

Though the Central Oregon Patriots and Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce are taking slightly different approaches to their respective events, the end goal remains the same.

“We don’t want the candidates to feel necessarily threatened or anything, but we want to put them in a position where they have to answer fairly specific questions to give good information to the community,” said Chamber Director Casey Kaiser.

Patriots Chair Ken Taylor likewise hopes people will come and “ask the hard questions” and “do the right thing as citizens”

The Patriots-led forum will lead off this Thursday in advance of local residents receiving their ballots in the mail, a scheduling benefit that Taylor said came by design.

“In Crook County, we have a huge number of ballots that get turned in within the first seven to 10 days,” he said, “so many of those people already have their mind made up.”

Taylor said that while he respects that position, he believes that people should still take the time to attend the forum and hear what the seven commissioner and three judge candidates have to say.

“That is the intellectually honest thing to do,” he said.

The forum, taking place at the Bowman Museum community room, will fit all 10 county court candidates into a three-hour window. Judge hopefuls will fill one 90-minute slot and the commissioner candidates will receive the same amount of time.

“We are obviously going to let candidates have their time to present their campaign,” Taylor said of the forum format, noting judge candidates will receive more time.

“That is a very critical position and there are fewer of them,” he said.

A question-and-answer session will follow with some questions developed from results of a county survey conducted last year. Taylor explained that the survey highlights issues of concern for local residents, making it a logical source. Other questions will come from audience members, submitted in written form prior to the start of the event.

The Chamber is splitting its forum into two events, one for commissioner candidates on Tuesday, May 3 and another for judge hopefuls on the following Tuesday, May 10. Both sessions will run two hours, each taking place at Carey Foster Hall.

“We have so many candidates that we felt like we would be able to get a little bit more detailed questions and information if we broke them into two groups,” Kaiser explained. “We wanted to try to get to five questions for each candidate.”

Those five queries will center on public input gathered through community polling by Bill Mintiens of Jakie Spring Media.

“So they should all be questions that our voter population is telling us that they are interested in hearing from the candidates on,” Kaiser said.

Like the Patriots’ event, the Cham-ber’s forum will give people about two minutes for an opening statement and two minutes to answer each question posed.

Unlike the Pat-riots, the Chamber opted to schedule the forums after ballots hit local mailboxes.

“Our thought process was to get more information out there as close to the final voting deadline (May 17) as possible,” he said. “So that way, people would have the ability to get one last look at the candidates and have that information fresh when they cast their vote.”

The Central Oregon Patriots candidate forum will be held at the Bowman Museum’s community room this Thursday, April 28, from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce is hosting its candidate forums on Tuesday, May 3, for county commissioner candidates, and Tuesday, May 10 for county judge candidates. Both forums will take place at Carey Foster Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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