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The letter below appeared in the Stuart News Opinion section on March 5, 2017:

Mark your calendar: Candidates for local, state and federal offices expected at LWV/AAUW forums

July 7th, 2016 at 12:00 AM | Email This Post Email This Post

From The League of Women Voters of Martin County, a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government:

Candidates for state, local, and federal offices will be on hand at Martin County’s Blake Library to speak at a pair of political forums co-hosted by the League of Women Voters of Martin County and the American Association of University Women, Stuart Branch on July 11th and July 14th.

o On July 11 th, the candidates will be those running for Martin County Commission Districts 1, 3 and 5, and Florida House and Florida Senate.

o On July 14 th, the candidates will be those running for the U.S. House of Representatives, District 18, Martin County Sheriff,  Martin County Superintendent of Schools, and School Board, District 5.

The League of Women Voters began sending invitations to the candidates by registered letter several weeks ago, and will contact any late entries into the races involved.

“League forums have a reputation for diligence and fairness to candidates,” said League president Linda Grand. “That is why we document both our invitations and the candidates’ responses.”

Both forums begin at 5:00 pm and are scheduled to wrap up by 7:45 pm, and will be moderated by Dianne Pierce, AAUW’s Director of Programs.

The Blake Library is located at 2351 SE Monterey Road, just south of the Martin County Administration Building.

Anthony Westbury: Politics as usual? Not in Stuart
Sep 19, 2015

Anthony Westbury is a columnist for

The second GOP candidates debate on Wednesday left me — and perhaps millions of others — with a nagging pain in the temples. I managed to watch the circus for about 90 minutes before I retreated to bed in disgust.

It’s hard to think of anything good that came out of the event; it was like watching a train wreck. We failed to learn anything new about any of the candidates because: a) they had nothing new to say; or b) they spent most of their time butting in on each other, not answering the questions; or resorted to insulting each other when a) or b) failed to cut it.

The CNN team of moderators also failed to impress. Jake Tapper and friends allowed those on stage to wander off topic, repeat campaign claims without much challenge and, in general, failed to control a chaotic atmosphere.

In the process, the CNN folks made the first debate moderators from Fox News look pretty good, Megyn Kelly notwithstanding.

Compare all that national nonsense with a local voter forum I attended Thursday. The two events were like night and day.

I attended a League of Women Voters/NAACP of Martin County voter education forum, held in Stuart.

The word “education” made a crucial difference.

Audience members came away better informed, clearly energized by what they’d heard and eager to learn more on some particularly knotty subjects.

Rather than leaving us jaded by politics, we felt jazzed.

We heard the background on why we should be creating fair congressional and Senate districts in Florida, rather than the gerrymandered goo we have now. We heard why we should care about reauthorizing the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which could help re-enfranchise large numbers of Americans who have lost access to polls because of restrictions on early voting and other measures.

Choice Edwards, a former Indiana legislator now living in Lake County, spoke about the All Voters Vote (Top Two) constitutional amendment, which would allow all voters to choose candidates, regardless of party in congressional, state and local races.

Readers in Martin and Indian River counties know the challenges of living in a place where they may have to register with a political party that does not jibe with their views just to get a vote.

Another speaker wanted to expand the restoration of felons’ voting rights. Unlike some more enlightened states, Florida insists on having the governor issue pardons. Scott has signed off on a paltry 5,000 pardons so far; Charlie Crist helped 150,000 felons who’d served their time and stayed out of trouble. Pardoning those individuals allows them to get better jobs and support their families, rather than returning to prison because they cannot find work. In Florida, we’re shackling prior offenders economically and politically.

All of that was discussed in the space of little more than 60 minutes. The Donald, Carly and Marco Show took three times as long to deliver one-hundredth of the information.

Of course, the local forum had no candidates on stage to bicker or indulge in mutual character assassination. The League of Women Voters will be bringing us candidate forums as we get closer to the 2016 general election.

However, I fully expect league chapters to do a far better, fairer job than the TV journalists have managed. Here’s a thought: How about letting the league moderate one of the national debates?

It couldn’t be any worse than the ridiculous bloodletting we’ve had to sit through so far.

Anthony Westbury is a columnist for Treasure Coast Newspapers. This column reflects his opinion. Contact him at 772-221-4220,, or follow him at TCPalmWestbury on Twitter.

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