July 02, 2008 IMLAY CITY — Members of American Legion Post 135 are doing their part to help inform the electorate of the 10 candidates running for the 82nd District House of Representatives seat in the Tues., Aug. 5 primary.
Seven Republicans and three Democrats have been invited to a "Get Out The Vote" debate scheduled Thurs., July 10 from 7-9 p.m. at the Imlay City Middle School.
Post 135 Commander Ted Collom believes the August primary election has particular significance this year and should not be taken lightly.
"Primaries typically don't draw a lot of people to the polls," says Collom. "Too many of us tend to leave it up to others to decide who will run in the (November) general election."
While the American Legion does not historically endorse candidates, Collom says the organization wants to play a leadership role, by providing a place and time for all the candidates to be heard.
"We hope the candidates don't resort to partisan rhetoric," says Collom. "We're in a real mess right now. People are losing their homes and are out of work. We hope the candidates will present some real ideas to solve our economic problems. Good intentions and political rhetoric only go so far."
The debate will be moderated by post member Gary Roy, who will be assisted by a time keeper to limit the duration of candidate responses.
"With only two hours dedicated to the program, we want to keep things moving along," says Collom. "The qualities the candidates display during the debate will show us how they handle things. It will give us a good idea of how they would conduct themselves in Lansing if they are elected."
Candidates expected to participate include Republicans Todd Courser, Kevin Daley, Gary Howell, Randy St. Laurent, Paul St. Louis, John Stack and Ben Stahl. Democratic candidates include Jason Blauet, Bernard Jocuns Jr. and Bill Marquardt.
Debate chairperson Matt Halbach said local media, including the Tri-City Times, have been invited to participate in the forum.
"We're looking at giving each of the candidates about ten minutes of time," said Halbach. "We're asking the media to stick to questions that affect our area — not questions about the war and national matters.
"We're hoping we get a lot of people in attendance to listen to the candidates' responses."