Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 28, 2012

Editorial: Bipartisan voter info priceless


---- — As they have so often in the past, the League of Women Voters — Grand Traverse Area have stepped up when voters need them most.

The League, which has a long and enviable record of providing honest, detailed, bipartisan information on candidates and ballot proposals from township elections to statewide ballot issues, is hosting a number of forums concerning the Nov. 6 general election, including as many as five candidate forums.

The first was a panel discussion last night regarding the Traverse City Division Street parkland ballot proposal.

The discussion was aimed at providing various viewpoints on a November city ballot issue asking voters to authorize the city commission to use park property on the west side of Division to accommodate an as yet-unspecified street redesign.

On Thursday, the league will host a presentation on the six statewide ballot issues before voters in November, ranging from ensuring collective bargaining rights to requiring a two-thirds majority of the Legislature to raise taxes.

Given the potential fallout from any one of the ballot questions, that presentation alone makes the League's efforts this year worthwhile. It will be held at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Traverse Area District Library's Woodmere branch.

But there's more:

n Oct. 10, 7 p.m., a forum with Leland Township supervisor candidates at the Leelanau County Government Center.

n Oct. 15 at 7 p.m., a forum with Leelanau County commission candidates in contested races at the Leelanau County Government Center.

n Oct. 16 at 7 p.m., a tentatively scheduled debate forum between U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek and opponent Gary McDowell at the Woodmere library.

n Oct. 17 at 7 p.m., a forum with Leelanau Township supervisor and trustee candidates at the fire hall in Northport.

n Oct. 25 at 7 p.m., a debate forum between state Rep. Wayne Schmidt and opponent Betsy Coffia at the Woodmere library.

And there could be more if arrangements work out.

Inara Kurt, the Grand Traverse League's voter service chair, said the point is to let voters get information from the candidates and to let them ask questions.

"We just think it's important that citizens get information from candidates themselves rather than look at political ads," she said.

Donna Hornberger, president of the Grand Traverse Area league, said the aim is to educate voters.

"The whole purpose of the League of Women Voters is to make sure we have an educated voter base — that people know what they are voting on," she said.

The League's reputation for being truly nonpartisan is more valuable than ever in this day of hyper partisanship, and gives voters confidence that they're getting the real deal.

Their service to the community is priceless.