Election forum set for Tuesday in Rifle | PostIndependent.com

Election forum set for Tuesday in Rifle

Ryan Hoffman

Rifle residents will have the opportunity to learn more about the seven people running for City Council when the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce hosts its candidate forum at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

“It’s going to be a really good educational opportunity for Rifle residents,” said Andrea Maddalone, chamber president and CEO. “The main message we want to portray is the importance of voting. It’s our right.”

Seven candidates will appear on the ballot — which will be mailed to registered voters the week of Aug. 17. Four seats were initially up for election, but a fifth seat formerly held by Dirk Myers also will be filled in the election. After Myers’ death, city attorney Jim Neu originally thought the ballots had been mailed and that council would have to appoint someone to serve in Myers’ seat until the 2017 election.

While some of the ballots were already printed, none of them had been mailed yet, which allowed the city to add the fifth position onto the ballot, Neu said.

The top three vote getters will win four-year terms, and the candidates with the fourth and fifth most votes will serve two-year seats. So far all but two candidates have confirmed that they will be at Tuesday’s forum.

This election is especially important, Maddalone said, because there are so many candidates running and a large number of seats that need to be filled.

“With five seats available that can dramatically change votes in the council,” she said, adding that she hopes the forum will provide people the opportunity to learn more about the seven candidates.

As for the format, the chamber is still trying to determine an approach that is both fair to the candidates and engaging for the public. Each candidate will make opening and closing statements, but the questioning — which will be asked by moderator and KMTS news and sports director Ron Milhorn — is less certain.

Repeatedly asking all seven candidates the same question would likely be less interesting for the public, Maddalone said.

“This is probably the toughest election because there are so many candidates running,” she said. “We’re going to try and keep it interesting … but we’re still trying to figure out how to make it work the best.”

The chamber also is considering inviting City Manager Matt Sturgeon to speak on the lone ballot issue in this fall’s municipal election. The question before voters would allow the city to borrow up to $5 million for street and road repair and maintenance.

Notices of the issue were mailed this past week, and the forum could be a good venue to try and explained the ballot question, Maddalone said.

When council voted to put the question on the ballot in July, several councilors noted that the language was awkwardly worded, which Neu said was due in part to requirements under Colorado’s Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights.

While the chamber is still trying to figure out the format, residents can still email their questions to Maddalone at CEO@riflechamber.com. The forum is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. Refreshments will be served for those attending in person, and the forum also will be broadcast on Comcast Channel 10 and streamed on RifleNOW.org.

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