Oct. 6 candidate forum a chance to discuss issues | VailDaily.com

Oct. 6 candidate forum a chance to discuss issues

Vail Valley Partnership exists to develop and enhance the economic vitality of the Vail Valley and Eagle County. Our local, regional and state governments are a key stakeholder group in building an environment conducive for business success, and the success of our small business community is essential to our entire community. Because of this, we seek to inform our members and the public on important issues affecting the business community through our public policy initiatives, educational forums, candidate questionnaires and a candidate forum.

There are a number of important issues facing our community, from housing to education, economic development to transportation, broadband to water and all points between. Businesses are politically homeless, and business issues are not partisan issues and they are not issues that reside within one party. These issues are important because quality of life is paid for when businesses succeed.

Non-partisan organization

This election season, we will work to explore these issues in detail and learn more about the candidates who hope to represent our community for the next two- to- four years. Our elected commissioners and state representatives will be instrumental in helping Eagle County address issues of importance to our business community.

A candidate’s forum allows candidates seeking public office to express their views openly so community members can understand their positions and make informed voting choices.

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Importantly, Vail Valley Partnership does not endorse candidates for public office and is a non-partisan organization. Because we are non-partisan, the Vail Valley Partnership Board of Governors feels strongly that partnership and community members should have access to information about all the candidates to help them make informed decisions on who they wish to represent them.

It is in this spirit we are pleased to host an upcoming candidate forum designed to introduce candidates for county commissioner and state house. Save the date for Thursday, Oct. 6 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Eagle County Building to hear from candidates as we discuss key issues facing our community.

Education on positions

The forum is an opportunity for us to host a non-partisan program that spotlights issues of importance to the business community. To clarify any confusion or misinformation in the community, our only agenda with the candidate forum is to educate the community about candidate positions on issues of importance to the business community. No, we didn't allow either political party to choose moderators — what benefit exists in allowing self-selected moderators? — and no, we were not open to a debate format, as we don't see the benefit in making the event about the candidates — we prefer to focus on issues.

Debate vs. Forum

Candidate forums are different than candidate debates. A debate allows candidates to appear concurrently, in face-to-face confrontations, with opportunities to respond to each other. A forum is defined as a place where ideas and views on issues are exchanged. The board of governors of Vail Valley Partnership sees no value in hosting an event that focuses on face-to-face confrontation, rather than focusing on the issues that face our community.

The board of governors of Vail Valley Partnership is committed to a hosting the candidate forum, and, as is common among chamber groups around the nation, it is a best practice to host forums and not debates. This includes the Denver Metro Chamber hosting a Senatorial Candidate Forum — not debate — this fall. We believe proper decorum dictates a forum format, and we believe there is nothing to be gained by the business community or citizens of Eagle County by allowing candidates to confront each other as opposed to discussing issues. 

So what exactly is a candidate forum? A candidate's forum allows candidates seeking public office to express their views openly so community members can understand their positions and make informed voting choices. Candidates for county commissioner and state house were invited in April and monthly since to participate in the forum. Vail Valley Partnership is a non-partisan organization, and our candidate forum is a non-partisan event.

Open House atmosphere

We have also built in an hour for a candidate meet and greet prior to the forum, to give all participating candidates an open-house type atmosphere to share their platforms and meet members of the public.

Additionally, the partnership has provided questionnaires to candidates seeking office for the upcoming November election. Through our questionnaire process, we offered candidates the opportunity to communicate their perspective on business-related issues. In turn, business and industry leaders as well as voters can review and utilize the questionnaires to learn more about the candidates in preparation for the elections. Candidate questionnaires can be found at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com/advocacy/2016-candidate-profiles/ and cover a variety of issues of importance to our local business environment and the business community.

We hope to see you Oct. 6 at the Eagle County building at 5 p.m. for our candidate meet and greet, and at 6 p.m. for our candidate forum.

Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, recently named Chamber of the Year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com