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CO-3 candidates are meeting for a public forum this week. Here's what to expect.

It's primary season in Southwest Colorado. The League of Women Voters is holding a forum on Wednesday for the candidates running in the third district Congressional race.
Lucas Brady Woods
It's primary season in Southwest Colorado. The League of Women Voters is holding a forum on Wednesday for the candidates running in the third district Congressional race.

Primary ballots are being sent out to Colorado voters this week. That includes in the state’s third congressional district where two republicans and three democrats are vying for spots on the ballot. Tomorrow evening, all five candidates are meeting at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Colorado. There's also a primary election in Montezuma County, for a County Commissioner seat. The League is also holding a forum for the candidates in that race. KSJD News sat down with the organization’s board president, Karen Sheek, to find out what to expect from both of the events.

Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission

Lucas Brady Woods, KSJD News: First of all, why does the league of women voters feel it's important to put on this event for Colorado's Third District?

Karen Sheek, League of Women Voters of Colorado: Well, the league's mission is empowering voters and defending democracy. One of the things that we do in that empowering voters portion of the mission is to provide candidate forums and ballot issue forums so that voters can learn who the candidates are and what the ballot measures are. Then, hopefully, make a more informed vote.

KSJD News: So getting into the nitty gritty about the event, what can viewers expect from the structure?

Sheek: There will be six candidates that will be interviewed. On the Republican end is the current representative Lauren Boebert. Don Coram who actually used to represent our district in the state of Colorado Senate, is also running on the Republican ticket. And then we have Adam Frisch, Sol Sandoval, who is a single mom, and Alex Walker, who are running on the Democrat ticket.

KSJD News: Getting into the structure of the event, how is it gonna look?

Sheek: First of all, keep in mind, this is a forum. It is not a debate. The candidates will have two minutes at the beginning to introduce themselves and provide a little bit of their background. They will have one minute each to respond to each of the questions. And then they will have a two minute timeframe in which they can provide closure, either, you know, do a little rah rah campaign speech for themselves, or go back and address something that they'd like to talk about again.

KSJD News: What are some of the issues that are going to be covered in the candidates' questions?

Sheek: We polled voters that live in the district as well as League members. Of course, water is a pressing issue. So that will be one of the areas that will be addressed. Then the economy, for example. And because the candidates have received four of the questions ahead of time - you know, we wanted them to have the opportunity to be able to think about them and provide thoughtful responses. The whole purpose of this candidate forum is to inform and expand the knowledge that voters have. It's not a "gotcha."

KSJD News: That's fantastic. I think that's what we need right now. And that does lead into my next question. The election process all the way down to the local level is facing distrust across the country these days, with some of our elected officials even contributing to misinformation about election integrity. How does the League hope to fight that trend with this forum?

Sheek: It allows the candidates to be able to tell the voters where they stand on issues, rather than somebody else providing information on how they think their position on a particular issue happens to be. The candidate can tell the voter where they stand, whether it be water or the economy or gun control, or whatever that issue may be, so that it's not being filtered through a third party.

KSJD News: This congressional race isn't the only election these days. Can you tell me a little bit about what the league is doing in regards to the Montezuma County Commissioners race?

Sheek: Yes, and that's an important race because there are three Republican candidates that are running in this primary. Montezuma County is hosting a candidate forum (again, this is not a debate) this coming Thursday from 6:30 until 8:00 at the Calvin Denton Room. I'll be moderating this particular event. We'll be asking all three candidates a series of questions that they have received in advance, that have to do with all kinds of things. Again, things like water, for example, county sales tax. And then during the last half, the last 30 minutes, participants will have the opportunity to actually talk to individual candidates and ask questions that perhaps we did not ask. So that's this coming Thursday. It's open to the public. As I said, this is a particularly important primary because there are no other candidates, unless something happens at the 11th hour and somebody gets a write in on the ballot. Whoever wins the Republican primary is who will be the next county commissioner.

KSJD News: That's a very important point to make about this primarily.

Sheek: Yes, it is.

KSJD News: Is there anything else that I haven't touched on about the congressional race that you would like to mention before we wrap up here?

Sheek: I would just like to encourage everybody to get out to vote. I got a notification telling me that my my ballot had been mailed, so I should be watching for it. If you don't get your ballot, I would say by the end of the week, call the County Clerk's office and tell them so that they can track that down and, if necessary, send you another ballot. Then please make some time to find out where these candidates stand on issues. They are seeking to represent you and you have the power to decide who gets to have that job. And if you don't take the time and make the effort to do that, then who knows. The person that gets the seat may not actually be in alignment with your particular needs or wants. We live in a democracy that has gives us lots of privileges, but we have a responsibility to be informed voters too.

KSJD News: It's incredibly important. Karen, thank you so much for joining us today and for giving us all this very important information.

Sheek: Thank you for inviting me. I appreciate it.

The candidate forum is on Wednesday, June 8, at 6:00pm. Click here for more information.

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Lucas is the News Director for KSJD Community Radio. His work focuses on serving the public of the Four Corners with responsible, factual reporting.