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League of Women Voters to host Cortez City Council candidate forum Thursday

Nine people are running for four open seats
Candidates for Cortez City Council will participate in a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Cortez City Hall. (The Journal file)

Candidates for Cortez City Council will participate in a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Cortez City Hall.

Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Nine candidates are vying for four open seats.

Mayor Mike Lavey, who was elected in 2018, and Orly Lucero, who has served two four-year terms since 2014, will vacate their positions. Councilors Robert Dobry and Matthew Keefauver will seek reelection.

Councilors Rachel Medina, David Rainey and Arlina Yazzie remain in their positions with two years left in their terms.

The candidates who have confirmed their participation in Thursday’s forum are:

  • Lydia DeHaven
  • Robert Dobry
  • Sean Dolan
  • Houston Frizzell
  • Matt Keefauver
  • Dennis Spruell
  • George Tripp

Candidate Bill Banks has not responded to the League’s request as of Wednesday afternoon, and Rafe O'Brien has a prior commitment, said LWV President Karen Sheek.

The meeting will not be livestreamed or recorded.

The first portion of the meeting will be moderated from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Candidates will have two minutes to introduce themselves, followed by a Q&A session facilitated by Judy Schuenemeyer. Candidates will have one minute to issue closing remarks.

Then, candidates will disperse to answer questions from individuals from 7:30 to 8 p.m.

Candidates received the questions in advance.

The questions are as follows:

  • What do you believe the role of a City Council member is?
  • What do you see as the city’s strengths and what could be improved?
  • What kinds of economic development would you like to see in the city?
  • What would you like to accomplish if you are elected to City Council?
  • Describe your vision of what you would like the city to be in five years.

“We tried to craft questions that were fairly broad so that we could ask questions that could actually give potential voters a little bit of meat to help them make their decision when they actually get ready to cast their ballot,” Sheek said.

The League of Women Voters is a 102-year-old, nonpartisan organization that hosts candidate forums to educate voters.

While the organization as a whole does not endorse or oppose candidates, individual members may.

“The thing that I always find really fascinating about (the LWV’s) history is the fact that when they realized that they were close to accomplishing (women’s right to vote) they also were visionary enough to realize that having the right to vote wasn't enough, you had to be informed in order to be able to make good choices when you went to the polls,” Sheek said.

Candidates and supporters can display and distribute campaign materials only in a designated space separate from the area where the forum will be held.

The league will hold additional forums this year for other elections, Sheek said.

The municipal election is April 5, and newly elected officials will take office April 26.

Three four-year terms and one two-year term are open on Cortez City Council.

The three candidates with the most votes will be elected to four-year terms, and the candidate with the next highest number of votes will serve two years.

Ballots will be mailed to registered voters in Cortez next week.

The council will choose the mayor and mayor pro tem April 26.

Candidates previously introduced themselves Jan. 31 at City Hall.