Liberty, West Chester candidate forums held this week

There will be two candidate forums this week so voters can hear from Liberty and West Chester Twp. trustee and school board candidates. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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There will be two candidate forums this week so voters can hear from Liberty and West Chester Twp. trustee and school board candidates. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Virtual events give voters chance to hear from school board, trustee hopefuls.

Voters in Liberty and West Chester townships will have an opportunity to hear from the school board and trustee candidates vying for seats in the November election during virtual forums this week.

The Lakota forum is Wednesday night and there is a crowded field of eight candidates vying for three seats on the school board. The trustee forum is Thursday and there are three candidates seeking two open seats in each township.

Both will be virtual-only events that can viewed starting at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom or on Facebook. Jenni Birch Szolwinski, director of marketing and public relations for the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance, said pre-COVID several hundred residents would attend the forums.

“By live streaming this we have the opportunity for everybody who wants to watch it, to watch it, we feel like that will actually increase the reach,” she said, adding the pandemic played into the decision as well.

Lakota School Board members Kelley Casper and Michael Pearl want to keep their seats but Brad Lovell is stepping down. There are three open seats. Other contenders are Isaac Adi, Darbi Boddy, Karine Chausse, Douglas Horton, Russ Loges and Vanessa Wells.

Liberty Twp. Trustee Christine Matacic is also leaving after nearly two decades in public service. Incumbent Trustee Tom Farrell, Todd Minniear and Buck Rumpke are running to fill two seats.

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West Chester Twp. trustees Mark Welch and Lee Wong both want to keep their seats on the board and Trent Emeneker is running to fill one of two open seats.

The forums are hosted by the Chamber Alliance, the Lakota District Parent Council and Miami University. Associate Professor John Forren, chair of the Miami University Department of Justice & Community Studies and executive director of the Menard Family Center for Democracy, will be the moderator.

Szolwinski said each candidate will be given time for opening and closing statements and Forren will ask questions. Residents watching the live-stream will not be allowed to question the candidates but Forren has received input from the community on the questions to ask.

“We really feel confident in Dr. Forren’s ability to really drive a lively discussion about the issues facing our two townships,” Szolwinski said. “He’s very experienced, he’s done these types of events before and he really is familiar with this area.”


How to watch:

The Lakota forum can be viewed on the Lakota District Parent Council Facebook page or by registering on Zoom at: https://miamioh.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_vKaTrjn7SaWavr3ygprVKg

The township trustee forum can be seen live on the Chamber Alliance Facebook page or via Zoom at: https://miamioh.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Z6KJ_yFkT_OUUOYRQnWVAw.

People can also watch after the event on YouTube or the West Chester TV channel.