The Sedalia-Pettis County League of Women Voters (LWV) will host a Candidates’ Fair from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Shelter House No. 3 on the north side of Liberty Park.
“The League of Women Voters was organized right after the 19th Amendment was passed giving women the right to vote,” said Mary Merritt, Voters Service Representative for the Sedalia-Pettis County chapter. “Their mission has been to send an educated voter to the poles. That’s why we sponsor candidate forums. In the case of the primary, where there are so many things, we do the Candidate Fair that we’re having.”
Candidates running for state and local offices have been invited. Merritt said all four candidates for Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney and two candidates for Division 6 Judge will be on hand to answer questions.
Each candidate will be given the opportunity to speak prior to answering questions, with the amount of time depending on the number present. After all the candidates have made their presentations, they will have tables set up to answer questions individually, as opposed to a question and answer forum.
“They are invited to bring their own table and set up their information. Each candidate will speak to the whole group, but no questions will be addressed to the candidate while they are at the microphone. Then they will go to their table and people can talk to them about it. It’s more like, let’s learn about them (the candidates) generally, then you can go talk to them individually,” Merritt said.
The LWV does not endorse or oppose any candidate. It does, however, offer an opinion on several of the ballot questions appearing in the Aug. 5 primary.
“The League never supports or opposes a candidate. They are strictly non-partisan. They never support that,” Merritt said. “They do support issues they have studied and have an opinion. What we want to do with this is to get the candidates together and hopefully get people there who can talk to them to find out if these are the candidates they want representing them.”
According to the national website, lwv.org, rooted in the movement that secured the right to vote for women, the League has worked to foster civic engagement and enhance access to the vote since it was founded in 1920.
Over time its work has evolved from efforts to gain and foster women’s suffrage to ensuring that all eligible voters – particularly those from traditionally underrepresented or under-served communities, including first-time voters, non-college youth, new citizens, minorities, the elderly and low-income Americans — have the opportunity and the information to exercise their right to vote.