The three candidates for Jefferson County commissioner met for the first time June 18 in front of a live virtual audience of 100 people for a candidate forum hosted by Jefferson County …
The three candidates for Jefferson County commissioner met for the first time June 18 in front of a live virtual audience of 100 people for a candidate forum hosted by Jefferson County Democrats.
Heidi Eisenhour, Amanda Funaro and Lorna Smith first gave short introductions before being given one minute to answer a series of questions by Jefferson County Democrats Chair Marty Gilmore.
Questions ranged from more timely questions on policing and law enforcement, to county budgeting, to expanding broadband internet access.
Gilmore said he thought the forum went well despite it being the first one they had ever hosted virtually. He said they did not have time to ask as many questions as he would have hoped but that they may try to schedule another forum in the first week of July.
Gilmore said one reflection on the forum he hopes to improve for the next one was that the questions were not specific enough for the candidates to draw clear contrasts between each other to make a case for why they should be chosen over their opponents. Instead, the questions and forum gave voters a chance to see each candidate’s personality.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the forum was a virtual chance for candidates to appear alongside each other publicly.
Eisenhour said the 1-minute limit for answers gave candidates little time to respond to each question. If they had been able to go into more detail, then the differences in their responses would have come out, she said.
Funaro said she also thought more time was needed to answer the questions in the depth they deserved.
Smith said she heard the same feedback from her campaign team after the event, that there was not enough distinction drawn between each person in their responses.
Gilmore said that the Jefferson County Democrats will not be endorsing a candidate until after the
Aug. 4 Primary Election results narrow the field to two.
In order to be endorsed by the group, Gilmore said one candidate must be chosen by a two-thirds majority vote. He said right now there is not enough to distinguish between the candidates for anyone to garner the votes required for an endorsement.
Eisenhower said she feels what distinguishes her from the other candidates is that she has lived in the heart of the district where she would serve for her entire life. That — combined with a myriad of diverse issues she has worked on locally and leadership positions she has taken, such as at the Jefferson Land Trust and the Northwest Maritime Center — gives her the unique perspective voters are looking for, she said.
Funaro said she feels like what makes her unique from other candidates is her focus on making Jefferson County a livable county. She said she is committed to ensuring there is opportunity for young people, affordable housing to support a work force, and family-wage jobs.
Smith said it is her experience with county government and local activism that sets her apart. She has served on the Jefferson County Planning Commission and has 22 years of experience working in local government in a number of different departments.
Candidates also participated in a forum Tuesday held by the Jefferson County chapter of the League of Women Voters. That event was held after The Leader deadline; see next week’s edition for coverage.