The 2014 televised series of in-depth election forums is under way. Designed to give voters a close-up view of candidates running for major office in the November election, the programs are spearheaded by the League of Women Voters with assistance from WTJX public broadcasting station, which is airing the series three nights per week.
The Source will post details of scheduled programs on its calendar, as they become available. Shows are Monday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Wednesday at 9 p.m. and can be viewed on Channel 12 on both St. Thomas and St. Croix. Innovative customers can also watch on Channel 90 on either island.
League President Gwen Marie Moolenaar said all candidates in the three major races – legislative, gubernatorial and congressional – have been invited to appear.
“The response is really very good,” she said. “The majority of the candidates are participating.” The shows are taped in advance of airing.
The league has been hosting televised candidate forums every election for the past 35 years, Moolenaar said. And WTJX has been “a great partner” all that time. This year, the league is also getting financial support from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
The format is simple. A league representative serves as moderator and asks the candidates a series of questions that have been selected in advance but not distributed to the candidates or to the public prior to the show. Each candidate is also given a specified amount of time to make an opening and closing statement.
Moolenaar said league members suggested questions based on current issues and the board selected from the suggestions to build a bank of questions. The moderator can pull from the bank to present questions to the candidates.
“We try not to correct them or to say what we think the answer should be,” Moolenaar said. “We want the public to make up their own mind.”
Programs started Sept. 3 and having appeared to date include St. Croix legislative candidates Miguel Quinones and Dwight Nicholson and St. Thomas legislative candidates Dwayne DeGraff, Stephen Frett, Cecilia Milliner Emanuel, Wilma Marsh Monsanto, Bruce Flamon, Jodi Hodge and Lawrence Olive.
Once all the forums have been televised, WTJX will begin repeating them, said Angela Gordon, who is in charge of programming the series. She said they plan to air each show a total of three times.
On Wednesday night, St. Croix legislative candidates Jamila Russell, Naomi Joseph and Linus Louis LaCane will be featured. On Friday, at-large legislative candidates Ronnie E. Jones and Almando Liburd will be the guests.
Taping is ongoing and further schedules are not yet available.