Louisiana American Legion Post 370 will host public forums for candidates in Louisiana City Council and Louisiana R-II School District board races the next two weeks.
The forum for city council and school board candidates will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 19. The forum for mayoral candidates will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 26.
Both will be held in the legion building at 420 Kelly Lane. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and the public is encouraged to come see and hear the candidates running in the Tuesday, April 8 election.
For the March 19 forum, the following council candidates will be invited: For Ward 1, Tim Carter and Neil Darnell; In Ward 2, Bruce McKenna, Don Oakley and Tom Hooper; And in Ward 4, Lori Helkey, Amy Turner and Jim Gott Jr.
None of the candidates for the three council spots are incumbents. The incumbent in the third ward, Chuck Hoffman, is unopposed.
In the school board race, the candidates for three seats are incumbent Daryle Wallace and newcomers Josh DePriest, Carolyn Hathaway, Melissa Corbin and Kristen Powers. Incumbents Sharon Dillender and Tony Gschwender are not seeking re-election.
For the March 26 forum, mayoral candidates have been invited. They are Russell Stephens, David Johner, David Minor, Bart Niedner and Douglas Dempsey. Incumbent Mayor Tom Wallace is not seeking re-election.
Louisiana resident and author Brent Engel, who has almost 30 years in journalism and extensive experience with election forums, will be the moderator.
Engel will ask questions submitted by the Louisiana Press-Journal and other Pike County media.
Audience members may submit questions from 6-6:20 p.m. on provided sheets of paper.
Plans are in the works to simulcast the forums or tape them for later website broadcast.
This is the second year that the American Legion has hosted such forums.
As with last year, the following procedure will be used on March 19 and March 26:
• Candidates will be seated in ballot order according to the race in which they are participating on a stage with microphones. The news media will be invited.
• Candidates will be given two minutes to answer each question. Opponents will then have two minutes each to respond. A signal will be given when candidates have 15 seconds remaining.
• The moderator will interrupt candidates who exceed the time limit and proceed to the next question.
• At the end of each question-and-answer period, candidates will be given two minutes each to summarize their campaigns.
• Candidates may not ask direct questions of each other.
The facility is large, so candidates are encouraged to bring supporters, who may wear endorsement shirts, sweatshirts, jackets or hats. However, no political signs or banners will be allowed inside the building.
At the event, the audience will be asked to hold its applause until the end of each segment.
Following are general rules not mentioned above:
• Questions of a libelous or lascivious nature will not be considered.
• Candidates are asked in their summaries to state their intentions if elected and avoid personal attacks against opponents.
• Due to the short time period allowed for questions, some inquiries may not be answered.
• Candidates will be assured of having a chance to answer a question, even if the projected time limit for the segment has been reached.
• Candidates are welcome to stay after all races have been covered to meet with constituents and the public should they choose to discuss specific issues or provide in-depth answers.
• American Legion Post 370 has agreed to sponsor and host the events solely as a community service. Neither the organization nor its members specifically or publicly endorse candidates for any election.
• Alcoholic beverages will not be served during the events.