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October 13, 2013

Some forums freeze out mayoral candidates

TRAVERSE CITY — City commission candidates will have up to eight opportunities to speak their minds at forums before the November election, but in some cases no mayoral candidates are allowed.

Organizers for both the Boardman Neighborhood Association and the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce did not invite incumbent Michael Estes or challenger Rick Buckhalter to their forums.

The Old Town Neighborhood Association initially also snubbed the mayoral hopefuls, but relented after Buckhalter complained. Organizers cited time constraints because of the large number of candidates.

“We have 90 minutes, so it’s really just a matter of time,” said Doug Luciani, president and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. “So we are focused on the city commission. I think if we felt it was a hotly contested mayoral race we would have done a separate forum.”

Would-be city commissioners are knocking on doors, handing out literature, putting up signs and mailing brochures. Estes, a former state Senate candidate who seeks his third term as mayor, already is well-known and left his old campaign signs and literature boxed up in his garage.

Buckhalter said he didn’t want to spend several thousand dollars to run an effective campaign, so his strategy relies on media coverage and forums.

Remaining candidate forums are scheduled for the following dates and times:

Oct. 17 — League of Women Voters of the Grand Traverse Area, 7:00 p.m. at the Traverse Area District Library.

Oct. 23 — Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, 3:30 p.m. at the Traverse City Central High School auditorium. The forum will be televised live on TCAP/TV channel 98.

Oct. 23 — Traverse City neighborhood associations, time and location to be announced.

Oct. 29 — Think TC, 5:30 p.m., CoWharf Coworking Space, 140 E. Front Street.

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