PERRYSBURG — Only two of five local candidate races on the Nov. 8 ballot will be debated in person in Wood County.
Some candidates, including Ohio Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, R-Perrysburg, and U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, declined to participate in the annual Candidates Forum presented by the League of Women Voters Perrysburg Area and League of Women Voters Bowling Green, set for Oct. 9.
This means that the candidates they are running against, Craig Swartz and Jan Materni, respectively, cannot participate.
“The non-partisan policy of the League of Women Voters precludes us from conducting a forum for any race when only one candidate running for the office will be present,” a league press release stated.
Ellen Dalton, chair of the voter service committee with the League of Women Voters Bowling Green, said there are fewer debates at this year’s forum.
“We could have had five races, we have two,” she said. “It’s disappointing that the public won’t have a chance to ask questions of all the candidates.”
The Perrysburg and Bowling Green leagues’ annual Voter Guides will be published next week — but without comments from some of the candidates.
The printed guides will be available in the Sentinel-Tribune on Tuesday and in the Perrysburg Messenger Journal on Wednesday.
Ghanbari and Latta also did not submit responses for the guides. For the guides, the league submits the same questions to both candidates in a race and does not edit the responses.
“I felt the questionnaire provided by the local League of Women Voters was very narrowly focused and did not address the real concerns about kitchen table issues that voters are voicing to me,” Ghanbari said. “Most voters I talk to at their doors are more concerned about the economy, inflation and jobs. Farmers are concerned about corporate incursion, and moms are more concerned about the value of education their children are receiving. While I am a big fan of the League of Women Voters, I believe a more mainstream questionnaire would have better served the public.”
The questions were about women’s reproductive rights, gerrymandering, gun ownership and views on the election system.
The full questions and Materni’s answers will be in Tuesday’s Sentinel-Tribune Voters Guide.
Messages were left with Latta’s spokesperson, seeking comment for this article.
The league did not consider rescheduling the forum, Dalton said.
“We, for quite a few years, have tried to have the forum occur just before early voting starts,” she said.
Early in-person voting in Ohio begins Oct. 12.
The forum will have candidates for the Court of Appeals District 6 and State Board of Education District 2 races.
Court of appeals candidates Tom Puffenberger and Charles Sulek submitted all required paperwork and will participate in the forum, as did candidates for the state board of education, Teresa Fedor and Sarah McGervey.
The public is encouraged to send questions for the candidates to [email protected] by noon today.
The following races will also be on the Nov. 8 ballot for some Wood County and Lucas County voters but will not be represented during the forum: U.S. Congressional District 5, U.S. Congressional District 9 and Ohio House Representative District 75.
In the District 5 race, Latta is unable to commit to participate and did not submit the required paperwork to participate, according to the league. Swartz submitted all required paperwork to participate in the forum.
In the District 75 race, Ghanbari is unable to participate due to prior commitments, according to the league. Materni submitted all required paperwork to participate in the forum.
District 9 candidates Marcy Kaptur and J.R. Majewski did not submit paperwork to participate in the forum.
The forum will be held virtually on Oct 9 at 2 p.m. In-person viewing of the livestream is available at Way Public Library in Perrysburg and the Wood County District Public Library. Advanced registration is required by going to the Way Public Library’s Calendar of Events.
On-demand viewing will be available a few days following the forum via a link on each of the area’s League of Women Voters’ websites: Bowling Green, Perrysburg and Toledo/Lucas County.
Candidate responses to questions prepared by the league and links to candidate social media can also be found at Vote411.org.