Meridian virtual candidate forum

This screen grab shows Ada County Commissioner candidates Rod Beck (left), May McFarland (middle) and Davidson Haworth participating in a virtual forum hosted by the Meridian Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, May 12, 2020.

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MERIDIAN — This year’s primary election will be unique. The COVID-19 pandemic forced state officials to conduct the election as mail-in voting only, and the virus has kept candidates off the streets, where they would typically be canvassing and giving public speeches prior to Election Day, May 19.

To fill the void of public speaking opportunities, the Meridian Chamber of Commerce hosted on Tuesday a virtual forum for candidates in legislative districts in Meridian and surrounding areas as well as candidates for the Ada County Commission. Only candidates in contested races, which all happen to be Republican, were invited to participate. Fifteen of the 22 eligible candidates tuned in.

Sean Evans, CEO of the Meridian Chamber of Commerce, along with Ryan Suppe, reporter for the Meridian Press, moderated the forum.

“The Meridian Chamber of Commerce wanted to give our members and the business community an opportunity to see and hear from the candidates that are seeking to represent Meridian in public office and with the coronavirus disrupting our way of life, even the way people learn and get to know their elected officials, we thought this was a much needed event,” Evans said following the two-hour virtual forum.

In the allotted time, candidates gave opening and closing remarks and answered just one question. The legislative candidates were asked to select one of three issues Meridian faces — rising property taxes, managing growth or economic development — and explain how they would attempt to solve the problem if elected. Most of the candidates said they would tackle property taxes and offered various suggestions to decrease taxes.

Ada County Commission candidates were asked how they propose to tackle infrastructure needs amid the county’s growing population, which the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho estimates will surge from about 482,000 residents to more than 670,000 by 2040.

To view a recording of the forum and to read candidates’ responses to a Chamber of Commerce questionnaire, visit meridianchamber.org/2020primary.

More information on the candidates can be found in the Idaho Press and League of Women Voters election guides at idahopress.com/elections or by entering your address at vote411.org. Find e-editions of the printed election guides at idahopress.com/eedition.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is May 19. Request a ballot at idahovotes.gov. Completed ballots must be returned to your county elections office by 8 p.m. June 2.

 

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