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AAUW annually hosts candidates’ forums

CANDIDATES PARTICIPATING IN the American Association of University Women candidates’ forums on Zoom in 2020 included, clockwise from top left, Renee Richer, Dana Ferguson, Valerie Willis and Beau LaFave.

The Iron Mountain-Kingsford Branch of the American Association of University Woman is celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2021. This is part of a series of articles highlighting AAUW’s local projects that support the community and where they plan to go in 2021 and beyond.

By Marsha Wainio

For The Daily News

IRON MOUNTAIN — AAUW Iron Mountain-Kingsford Branch has been helping the public meet and interact with candidates for local, state and federal office since at least 1976, hosting a “Meet the Candidates” event where voters and candidates could interact directly. Being a non-partisan organization, candidates have come to trust AAUW-IMK to provide a fair and equitable event. While the locations and venues have changed over the years, the format has remained constant.

Before each election, the forum committee works with the Dickinson County clerk to create a list of candidates. Candidates for local, state and federal offices are invited to participate. Forum locations have included First Lutheran Church, Iron Mountain; the Iron Mountain Elks Club; the Premier Center, Iron Mountain High School, Kingsford High School, and for the 2020 forum, the Zoom online platform. A local leader (non-AAUW member) is chosen to act as moderator for forum. While the records show men (Todd Gustafson and Tom Hower) have acted at moderator, in recent years, AAUW-IMK has made a point of having local women leaders in that role. Lois Ellis, Julie La Cost, Stephanie Brule, Wendy Warmuth, Dee Benjamin, Megan Buck, Linda Lobeck and Cynthia Neumeier are just some of the women who accepted the invitation.

During the forum, a question-and-answer session follows opening statements. Questions from the audience are reviewed for clarity and appropriateness, then given to the moderator, who decides which questions to ask. Closing statements end the forum.

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