Ten candidates for six local public offices ranging from the Washington State House of Representatives to Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer participated in a 90-minute candidate forum online hosted by the Key Peninsula Community Council Oct. 13.
The town hall-style meeting was traditionally conducted before standing room only crowds in the Whitmore Room at the KP Civic Center in Vaughn to give the community a chance to ask questions of elected officials and candidates running to replace them. But due to the pandemic, Lisa Larson, the council office manager, suggested an online forum.
“I started studying for this a while ago,” Larson said. She had attended a county-wide virtual town hall over the summer that was fraught with technical and security issues, and didn’t want that to happen here. “I attended webinars and studied Zoom security for weeks to prepare,” she said.
The event was moderated by Gina Cabiddu, program manager of the Children’s Home Society of Washington-Key Peninsula Resource Center, with assistance from timekeeper Stefanie Warren of the KP Civic Center.
Participants included candidates for the two positions for 26th Legislative District representative, incumbents Rep. Michelle Caldier and Rep. Jesse Young and their respective challengers Joy Stanford and Carrie Hesch; incumbent Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier and challenger Larry Seaquist; candidates for Pierce County Sheriff Cyndie Fajardo and Ed Troyer; Congressman Derek Kilmer, whose opponent, Elizabeth Kreiselmaier, did not respond to an invitation to attend; and Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan, who is running unopposed for a third term.
The candidates fielded about a dozen questions taken from approximately 40 submitted to the organizers in advance. They ranged from the impact of the pandemic-driven recession on property taxes to what officeholders would do about rising property crime on the KP, climate change and perennial traffic issues.
Over 200 hundred people registered to watch the Oct. 13 forum live, but a violent storm that day knocked out power to much of the KP and only about 70 people logged on. The event was also broadcast on KGHP FM while the online video was recorded by Cynthia Stewart of the Tacoma-Pierce County League of Women Voters. The KP Community Council has a link to the presentation on its website, and Larson encouraged the community to watch it.
“We did it for the community and it will be accessible to them for three months,” she said.
The power outage also forced the organizers to relocate from the Key Center office an hour before the event to the KP Civic Center, which recently installed a generator so that it can act as an emergency shelter.
The forum was sponsored by the KP Community Council, the KP Business Association, the KP Civic Center Association and the KP News.
The recording can be viewed here.