Candidate forums slated for upcoming election

Published 11:09 am Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce will host three public forums in preparation of next month’s election.

The Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs Committee will host a forum for the District 27A Representative race between incumbent Republican representative Peggy Bennett and her challenger, DFLer Gary Schindler, and the District 27 Senate seat between incumbent DFLer Dan Sparks and his challenger, Republican Gene Dornink, at 7 p.m. next Tuesday in the lecture hall at Riverland Community College.

Randy Kehr

Randy Kehr

The debate for Ward 1 and Ward 3 Albert Lea City Council spots is at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 in City Council Chambers at City Hall. The Ward 1 forum will be at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Ward 3 forum at 7:20 p.m. and the Ward 5 forum at 8:10 p.m.

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No incumbent city councilors filed for re-election.

Rich Murray and Craig Havener will face off for election to the 1st Ward. Jason Howland and Roger Swanson are running for the 3rd Ward, and Paul Shea and Robert Rasmussen are running for the 5th Ward.

The candidate forum for the Albert Lea School Board will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 in the lecture hall at Riverland Community College.

Incumbent Julie Johnson, Sonjia Hill, Neal Skaar, Ellen Kehr, Ken Petersen, Angie Hanson, Cynthia Gail, Aaron Phillips, Kendall Langseth and Joseph Ferguson have announced their candidacy for school board.

The candidate forum for Freeborn County Board of Commissioners District 1, 3 and 5 seats is at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 3 in City Council Chambers at City Hall.

Incumbent 1st District Commissioner Glen Mathiason is facing Ronald Jacobsen, District 3 Commissioner Jim Nelson is facing David Shoff and District 5 Commissioner Mike Lee is facing Lynn Berven.

Each candidate will have two minutes for an opening statement and a one-minute closing statement.

The balance of the forum will consist of written questions given by audience members, a press release stated.

Anyone who wants to submit a question prior to the forum is asked to direct their emails to

Raquel Hellman of KIMT will serve as panel moderator and read the submitted questions.

Questions will be directed — unless otherwise indicated — on a rotation basis.

All forums will be broadcast live on KATE Radio, and forums in City Council Chambers will be broadcast live on the Government Channel.

Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Kehr said he is pleased with the number of candidates who have filed for office.

“One is always pleased when citizens step up and offer themselves for public service,” he said.

Kehr said forums have traditionally been well attended, noting his hope that each forum will bring a standing-room only audience.

“The Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce does not endorse any candidates,” a press release stated. The chamber does feel, however, that it is our obligation to create opportunities for our members and the general public to become informed voters. Members and the general public are encouraged to attend the forums. Most importantly, remember to vote on Nov. 8.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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