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Details emerge on upcoming candidate forums

With barely three weeks until the 10th Senate District recall election, details are being worked out on three proposed forums or debates that will allow voters to compare and contrast incumbent Senator Sheila Harsdorf, a Republican, with her Democratic challenger, Ellsworth teacher Shelly Moore.

Moore's press secretary, Gillian Morris, announced Friday that Moore has accepted debates with Senator Sheila Harsdorf, to be hosted by the River Falls Chamber of Commerce, Hudson Patch and Wisconsin Public Radio. A fourth dabate has been proposed by apparent Democratic interests, sponsored by the American Association of University Women. Harsdorf has not agreed to participate in that debate.

The first session, at 7:30 p.m., July 25, will be hosted by Hudson Patch in the Public Access Cable studio in Hudson. Patch editor Micheal Foley said he'll moderate the forum. Because of limited seating, Foley is issuing tickets for the event -- including five for other media, several for local dignitaries such as the school superintendent, the mayor and other elected officials. Foley said the balance of about 50 tickets will be split equally between the two candidates so they can each invite supporters.

Foley said the session will be taped that evening for rebroadcast on the Hudson Public Access channel and will be streamed on the Hudson Patch web site. Each candidate will be invited to give an opening statement after which each will have two minutes to respond to questions, provided them in advance. During another segment, each candidate will allowed to ask the other a question and Foley plans a "speed round, where I'll throw out issues, possibly like abortion ... gun control, where they'll have 30 seconds to respond" with their position.

The hour-long session will likely conclude with him asking -- "Why should you be the senator?" Foley is soliciting questions from the Patch readership and may come up with his own.

He said Rich Kremer from Wisconsin Public Radio station WHWC-FM in Eau Claire has already said he'll attend. Kremer will later host Harsdorf and Moore in-studio at Eau Claire at 5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 4. That meeting would constitute the fourth meeting between the two.

The third meeting between the two will be at a breakfast session hosted by the River Falls Chamber of Commerce at 7:30 a.m., Thursday, July 28. The Westwind Supper Club was originally noted as the venue but Chamber officials are reportedly considering another site that will accommodate more people. Admission for that forum is $15, with breakfast included. Dr. Del Permann, interim pastor at Roberts United Church of Christ, will moderate. For more information, contact the Chamber office at 715-425-8100 or write Rivertown Newspaper Group plans to provide a live web-cast of the forum on its newspaper web sites.

Chamber executive director Rosanne Bump noted that her organization "does not take positions on issues but strives to provide opportunities to inform and educate members and the community about issues that may affect the business community."

Moore's campaign said the American Association of University Women is hosting a forum at 7 p.m., Wednesday, July 27, but Harsdorf has not agreed to participate in that event.

St. Croix County Republican Party Chair Jesse Garza said the American Association of University Women is being organized by two Shelly Moore supporters and questions the impartiality of the event.