SIERRA VISTA — As far as candidate forums go, this one was certainly different, but effective, according to those vying for office and members of the public who attended the virtual event.
The Herald/Review hosted the 2020 Election Virtual Candidate Forum Wednesday evening with 21 candidates running for state and local positions and about 40 members of the public who visited virtually with the candidates, asking them questions about their plans should they be elected.
The forum gave the candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves and present their platforms to the public.
The candidates who participated included those running for Sierra Vista City Council, Cochise County Board of Supervisors, Cochise County Superintendent of Schools, Cochise County Sheriff, Bisbee School Board, Justice of the Peace Precinct 5, Cochise County Superior Court Judge Division 5, Arizona House LD 14 and U.S. Congress.
While the majority of the candidates stayed on point, zeroing in on their platforms, a handful took jabs at their opponents, eliciting smirks or furrowed eyebrows.
As the candidates spoke, members of the public could comment on what they were hearing or they could follow up with questions aimed at a particular person.
The first candidate to step up on the virtual stage was Kathy Boston, a write-in contender for the Sierra Vista City Council. The City Council will have three open seats. There are two official candidates — incumbent Rachel Gray, who is the mayor pro tem, and Angelica Landry — and three other write-in candidates.
Boston, retired from the military and a licensed Realtor and associate broker, wants to involve the community more in local government. She also wants to see more diversity on the council representative of the community.
Boston was followed by Gray. Gray said she wants to continue working on quality of life issues in the city, as well as work to ensure the city has an “effective and efficient” government.
Political newcomers Angelica Landry and Daman Malone, also competing for a spot on the Sierra Vista City Council presented their views. Landry said it’s important “to communicate with one another and understand one another.” Malone said it was time he “walked” the ideas concerning city government that he’s been talking about with friends. He is concerned with water conservation among other issues.
Lori Kilpatrick, who is running for Board of Supervisors, said there is little economic stability in the county and it’s time officials “stop making decisions for us and start making decisions with us.”
Candidates in the most contentious race so far — Cochise County Superior Court Judge Division 5 — stayed on topic for the most part, except when Jason Lindstrom mentioned he was the only one running who had not been fired from the County Attorney’s Office as had his two opponents, Anne Carl and Sandy Russell. Carl talked about trust and fairness and said she would be a public servant, “not a self-promoter.” Russell expounded on her experience in civil law and her plans to hopefully create a jobs court, mental health court and veteran’s court.
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, who is running unopposed, said he just wanted to thank the community for electing him to the position eight years ago. The sheriff said public safety is “the quality of life we truly enjoy.” He also mentioned that in surveys the Sheriff’s Office has done over the last three years, employees have expressed that they enjoy working for the agency.
Attorney Adele Drumlevitch, who is running for Justice of the Peace Precinct 5, wanted to assure voters that just because she works as a defense attorney does not mean she will automatically side with defendants in cases that come before her. Drumlevitch said she would always listen to both sides and then make her decision.
Some members of the community who participated in the forum and the chat section of the event said they welcomed the chance to learn more about the candidates.
“This was an excellent opportunity to meet the many candidates and hear their political viewpoints and plans for the future, if elected,” said participant Christine Rhodes.