April 9, 2014

League of Women Voters should not give up

The Daily Citizen

— The League of Women Voters decided to do something new and a little different, something that could have helped educate voters across the state. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the cooperation they needed from those running for two of the state’s highest offices.

We hope this doesn’t discourage the League or other organizations from further efforts to shake up this year’s campaigns.

The League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area and the League of Women Voters of Georgia had planned a forum for candidates for governor and for U.S. Senate on April 22 in Dalton. More than a dozen candidates total have qualified for the May 20 primaries in those two races. Just two of those candidates accepted the League’s invitation: former Dalton mayor David Pennington, who is challenging Gov. Nathan Deal in the Republican primary, and Branko “Dr. Rad” Radulovacki, an Atlanta psychiatrist seeking the Democratic nomination for Senate.

With so little cooperation, League officials canceled the forum.

League officials said that most of the candidates claimed prior commitments as the reason why they would be unable to attend. Many of these candidates put their schedules together weeks or even months in advance. A spokesman for state schools Superintendent John Barge said last week he is scheduled to speak to an educators group on April 22, an engagement the spokesman said Barge made last year.

League officials sent out invitations for the forum in late March, less than a month before it would have taken place. That may have been too short notice.

Perhaps the League should look at scheduling a forum or debate this fall between the winners of the primaries and any other candidates who qualify for the November ballot for governor and U.S. Senate. Give the candidates plenty of time to put the event on their schedule.

And voters, especially those who give money to or volunteer for those candidates, should make it clear to the candidates they expect them to show up for such an event.