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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A little help with upcoming candidate forum?

I’ve always been a little bit of a dreamer.

But, the way I look at it, a girl’s gotta have a goal. And, really, isn’t “dream” really just another word for “goal”?

One of my personal dreams/goals started a little over four years ago.

Once upon a time, there was a managing editor who heard a rumor.

The rumor involved two young guys who were thinking about running for Lake County commissioner.

Her eyes grew large as she started thinking.

Future of Lake County. Changing of the guard. Meet the candidates.

If you just read those quickly, you didn’t get halfway as fast as my mind was moving when I heard that Democrat Kevin Malecek and Republican Christopher Galloway might be weighing a run for county commissioner in Spring 2008.

They were both public officials already, Malecek a councilman in Willoughby Hills and Galloway a trustee in Concord Township.

Both were pretty young when you look at the political landscape in Lake County, too.

Malecek was 29, while Galloway was 36.

“We should have a debate.”

I was excited. Sure, I was the only one, but sometimes you need to be a dreamer to see the potential of an idea.

I should admit, others weren’t excited because neither had filed petitions with the county Board of Elections officially announcing themselves as candidates.

And they still haven’t.

I’ve forgiven both. In fact, we’re Facebook friends now. I only mention my heartbreak to Malecek in passing now, a sly little needle to remind him I have a long memory.

It’s so long that I brought up the idea again when word arrived this spring that Ray Sines wouldn’t be running for re-election for commissioner.

Two new candidates in that race still meant a changing of the guard.

When I brought up the debate idea to Malecek, he jumped at the idea.

(Now he jumps!)

Fast forward a few months, and I’m here to ask you to block off 7 p.m. Sept. 26 on your calendars so you’ll remember to head over to Royce Hall for the Fine and Performing Arts at Lake Erie College for our candidate forum in the C.K. Rickel Theatre.

You’ll note that the “debate” has become a “candidate forum.”

I believe they’re the same thing, but one sounds a little less like a street fight.

It’s hard to imagine Bob Aufuldish, John Hamercheck, Judy Moran and David Fiebig in a street fight.

The latter pair are running for the seat being vacated by the retiring Sines. The scenario is familiar to the dream four years ago — both are veteran officeholders, the Democrat Moran as council president in Willowick and the Republican Fiebig a councilman in Willoughby Hills.

The other race features incumbent Democrat Aufuldish of Wickliffe against the Republican Hamercheck, a who’s been a Madison Village councilman since 2006.

We’re joining forces with some pretty special people to bring these candidates and their platforms some special attention because they’re going to be at the center of the decisions that will shape the future of Lake County.

We’re getting some help on Sept. 26 from the League of Women Voters, which will moderate the discussion; Lake County Chambers of Commerce; Lakeland Community College, which will be taping the event for broadcast later; and Lake Erie College, our hosts.

It’s taking place so early because less than a week later, Oct. 2, is the first day of early voting in Ohio.

Those of you who plan to cast your ballots early need to get your homework done early, so we’re trying to be helpful.

Because we’re trying to get you prepared, I’m hoping you’ll return the favor and get us ready for the forum by sending us a couple questions to ask the candidates.

We’re looking for what we call “global questions” — ones that we can pose to all four candidates. We want to hear what’s on your mind —whether it’s taxes or road maintenance or board appointments. Everything is fair game.

Email your questions to We’ll go through them to find those with global appeal and hand them over to the League of Women Voters.

We hope you’ll join us on Sept. 26 at Lake Erie College for this historic event — a sit-down with those who will be at the heart of the moves that directly impact your everyday life. Doors at Royce Hall will open at 6:30 p.m., and greetings will begin just before 7 p.m.
Twitter: @Lauranh


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