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LWV-Red Wing mixes it up with ward-style forum

Because there are 14 candidates running in the Aug. 14 primary election for four Red Wing City Council seats, the League of Women Voters created four mini forums within a forum July 26, 2018. Hannah Coyle / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Flanked by Ward 3 candidates Becky Norton and Ted Seifert, At-large candidate Ralph Rauterkus answers a Ward 3 resident's question during the League of Women Voters-Red Wing forum July 26, 2018, at Red Wing Public Library. Hannah Coyle / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

As the Aug. 14 primary election nears, the League of Women's Voters offered Red Wing residents an opportunity to get to know their candidates before casting votes.

On July 26, at the Red Wing Public Library citizens heard from 13 of the 14 candidates for City Council. Only candidate Tony Wiech was not in attendance. In addition to the volunteers from the LWV and the Chamber of Commerce, there were an estimated 60 community members present.

To begin, Lisa Bayley, co-chair of LWV-Red Wing, introduced the night, followed by each candidate's one-minute introduction. They brought different visions, backgrounds and personalities to the table.

The format for this event was altered from previous years'. Residents were split into groups: Wards 1-2 heard from their candidates, Ward 3 from theirs, and Ward 4 from their candidates. At each station was a LWV moderator. The At-large candidates rotated to answer questions from each group.

"We weren't sure how this new format would work, but with so many candidates we knew we had to try something different." Bayley said.

Questions ranged from "What are your thoughts on making Red Wing a more sustainable community?" to "Where do you stand on painting the bluff?" A few things that continued to be a topic for discussion were the relationship with Xcel Energy as well as taxes and affordable housing.

"It was sometimes hard to hear with so many people, but overall everyone seemed pleased. We'll be gathering comments to decide if we do it this way again—somehow I doubt we'll have this many candidates again anytime soon!" Bayley said.