COEUR d’ALENE — Candidates for county office and state legislative districts across Kootenai County gathered for a unique experience Monday night. The Kootenai County League of Women Voters’ “Candidating” event pitted voters and candidates in a speed-dating environment that the two groups thoroughly enjoyed. The LWV President Bonnie Douglas said the first-time event was conceived as a remedy for problems at previous events, at which some candidates wouldn’t show up and participating candidates would be deprived the chance to talk.
Monday night’s event put candidates in small groups with voters and set them loose for five-minute intervals. LWV officials told candidates not to monopolize conversations, and notified them when to rotate to a new small group. The format took moderators out of the equation and gave voters direct access to the candidates, Douglas said.
Coeur d’Alene residents Kraig Lysek and Dotty Quade came because they are usually interested in politics, particularly nonpartisan events such as this one and Donkephant.
Darren Thiesen of Coeur d’Alene said he got more insight into each candidate from meeting them face-to-face than he had from their campaign websites.
Coeur d’Alene resident Courtney Johnson liked the ability to ask candidates questions directly instead of having to go through a moderator or rely on preselected questions.
Thiesen added that he came away from the event feeling that there were more candidates worthy of his consideration than he had realized — even ones he normally wouldn’t consider voting for.
Post Falls resident Savannagh Kacey explained that the event was marked by its “extremely collegial” atmosphere. “Candidates were here to tell the truth of what they stood for,” she said. “At most events you can’t ask what’s on your mind.”
Bea Ford of Post Falls said Monday night was the first time she had participated in a political event. “It was interesting,” Ford said.
Sixteen candidates participated in the event, said LWV secretary Michaela Delavan, including county candidates Jim Brannon, Dan Gookin, Bill Brooks, Leslie Duncan, Ruben Miranda, lieutenant governor candidate Kristin Collum. and state legislative candidates Jim Addis, Paul Amador, Maria Andrews, Dale Broadsword, Cory Jane English, Dan Hanks, Shem Hanks, Shon Luoma, Rebecca Schroeder, and Mary Souza.
LWV member Julie Shea said Coeur d’Alene has much room for improving its participation at political events. “In my opinion everybody should be interested and find out the stance of their candidates,” she said. However, Monday’s event drew around 60 total participants, who in a show of hands warmly approved of the experience at its conclusion.