Mason City Incumbents Boycott Public Forum

Posted at: 10/26/2013 8:35 PM
Updated at: 10/27/2013 8:58 AM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 News) -- With municipal elections just around the corner, a candidates forum was held in Mason City this morning, but not all those running for office decided to show.

The need for higher paying jobs and a new way to combat crime in the area were all part of the discussion at Saturday’s city election's forum in Mason City.

"A debate of a public forum gives the opportunity for candidates to be seen and for citizens to be heard,” said Mason City resident Mary Madison.

Members of the public had their chance to be heard, through questions written on note cards for the moderator to ask the candidates.

"It's about our city, we want the city to know and let the public ask questions,” said Mason City resident Patricia Steinfort.

But the real question that was on most people's mind had to do with the four empty chairs at the front of the room. The incumbents of the election decided not to take part in Saturday’s debate.

"I think that's a huge mistake because this is a democracy,” said Madison.

We reached out to the incumbents who didn't show. City Council Members Janet Solberg and Scott Tornquist gave the same reason over the phone for not participating. They feel Saturday’s forum was not a legitimate debate. Tornquist says he never received an invitation to the forum and it was set up last minute. Also saying that the sponsor of the debate - Local 106 Boilermakers - is one sided.

"To me it speaks volumes of what the candidates, whether they're incumbents or not think of the citizens of mason city,” said Madison.