EDITORIAL: All-candidates meetings need fresher format

We hope voters gain some insights on candidates from attending election events planned around the West Shore

With the nomination lists now complete and the candidates out on the hustings talking to people around the West Shore, the 2014 election campaign is in full swing.

One of the ways that voters have traditionally gained a better understanding of the views of their candidates for mayor, council or school board is by attending all-candidates meetings.

On the surface, such gatherings appear to offer a reasonable vehicle for people seeking office to communicate their platform or how they might change things if elected, and for voters looking for one last piece of information to help them make their choices.

In reality, such meetings tend to offer little in the way of meat for people to chew on. It’s not so much due to a lack of good questions asked of the candidates, but more due to the format they usually adhere to. The limited time frame is a frequent enemy of a good all-candidates meeting, especially in municipalities or jurisidictions where a large number of candidates are on the ballot.

Too often, by the time two hours or so is expired, candidates have barely got a chance to describe themselves and what they would hope to accomplish in office.

So what is a well-meaning community group or business organization to do? The answer isn’t exactly clear, but voters are not really being served by using the same old formats.

As of the Gazette’s press deadline, a handful of all-candidates meetings had been scheduled for the West Shore, with more to come once venues are nailed down. Our hope is that the people and groups running these information sessions find a way to make them meaningful to the voters who take time out of their busy evenings to attend them.

At the end of the day, however, the onus falls on the candidates. You want to get elected? Get out and do the legwork of meeting people and telling your story on your own time.