Wednesday, January 21, 2015
CHICAGO – The Bridgeport Alliance today announced the format for a forum with candidates running for Alderman of the 11th ward. The 2015 election marks the first time in over three decades that an incumbent is not running for the seat. The debate is scheduled to be held at First Trinity Lutheran Church at 643 W 31st Street.
“Eleventh ward residents have a clean slate this year,” said Bridgeport Alliance chairperson Ruby Pinto. “During the debate we’re hoping to learn about the candidates and equip voters with the knowledge to confidently cast their ballots on ” .
Each candidate will be given three minutes for an opening statement. Opening statements will be followed by questions that have been submitted by 11th Ward residents. Prior to the forum, candidates were given a list of the topics to be addressed, but not specific questions.
Candidates will have two minutes to answer each question. The event is a forum as opposed to a debate and candidates are encouraged to answer the questions directly.
Questions will be posed in a revolving order so that no candidate is “always first” or “always has the final word.”
To conclude the forum, each candidate will offer a closing statement. After the forum, all are welcome to stay and chat with candidates, enjoy cookies and coffee, and meet neighbors.
Bridgeport Alliance has secured confirmation of attendance from all three candidates vying for the seat including John Kozlar, Maureen Sullivan and Patrick Thompson. The three confirmed candidates have all successfully gained enough signatures to be on the February ballot.
During the planning phase, Bridgeport Alliance has invited community groups throughout the 11th ward to be co-hosts and submit questions or subjects for discussion during the debate.
“We’re hoping to turn out a large, diverse crowd,” said Pinto. “The 11th ward is home to large numbers of Asian, Latino and European groups and we want all of them to be able to make informed decisions at the ballot box.”
A voter registration table will also be set up. Volunteers will be on hand to help individuals register to vote.
Pinto says that the Bridgeport Alliance has secured Chinese and Spanish translators for the debate. “No one should be excluded because of a language barrier,” she said. The debate will also be recorded and made available online after the event for those who are unable to attend.
In seeking a moderator for the debate, several candidates were vetted. Librarian Rebecca Berg was selected as the moderator for the debate. Berg has helped cull submitted questions and will promote robust discussion on topics important to residents.
“Our next Alderman has the ability to shape the direction of the 11th ward for years to come,” said Pinto. “Residents have a duty to themselves and their neighbors in February. We’re excited for this opportunity to help set the tone and ensure that the people are heard.”
The forum will be held this Sunday