Lindenwood to host first political forum in a decade

AB Leadership room in Spellmann. The room is set to be the location for the Political Forum on Oct. 27.

Photo by Mallary Vasquez

AB Leadership room in Spellmann. The room is set to be the location for the Political Forum on Oct. 27.

Mallary Vasquez, Reporter

The Lindenwood Collegiate Democrats plan to host a political forum debate on campus for the State House District 105 in the AB Leadership room on Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. with two candidates already agreeing to come to the event. 

Clayton Herbst, the president of the Lindenwood Collegiate Democrats, said that the debate has already three candidates for the seat invited to the debate. The debate will be moderated by the League of Women Voters. 

“The candidates are Cindy Berne, a democrat, representative Adam Schawdron, a republican who is currently elected in the 106 District which got redistricted in the 105, and libertarian Michael Carver,” Herbst said. “All three were invited to come to an open forum moderated by the League of Women voters, all three candidates were going to give the same questions and the same amount of time to respond to each question. Questions are to be submitted in advance to the League of Women voters.”

Herbst said that out of the three candidates invited to the debate, Cindy Berne and Michael Carver were the only ones who have agreed to attend at the moment. Lindenwood students and members of the St. Charles community are able to attend and submit questions.

“We have opened the event up to the greater St. Charles County Community and there is a submission on the League of Voters Website where you can submit a question, and we’re hoping to take these questions, screen them, reword them so they are clear, fair, and unbiased, then organize them into a forum,” Herbst said. “However, should we have a lack of questions or the League of Women Voters feels like there’s a lack of a certain topic they have a list of questions that we’ll pull from.”

Topics that Herbst said he expects to be brought up include public schools, diversity equity and inclusion, the economy, the recent Roe vs. Wade ruling, and more. 

“Participants will be able to submit questions at the event with a card,” Herbst said. “[Candidates] will not be taking questions from the floor which you’ll be able to write them down and submit them, that way the moderator has time to make sure there’s no bias.”

On Lindenwood’s St. Charles campus, Herbst said that there has not been a debate or panel for political candidates in about a decade. He hopes that by hosting the event, the campus can highlight the real-life political impact on the local level. 

Before the event, the Lindenwood International Relations Organization is forming a pre-event meet and greet for International Relations students, Political Science students, and others to have the chance to meet the candidates beginning 30 minutes before the start of the event.

“We’re really hoping that students come,” Herbst said. “We have the political science department and the college of arts and humanities is considering offering extra credit. We’re really encouraging students to bring this to their professors and ask them if they’d be willing to offer extra credit. We’re going to have free t-shirts, free food. It’s going to be a really wonderful time, so we’re really hoping that students show up.”

The first candidate to accept the invitation to the event was Democratic Candidate Cindy Berne. 

Don Soffer, Berne’s campaign manager, said that it is important that Berne is at the event as the focus of her campaign is to show up and answer questions from those in the community. 

“We’re an open book, I know that Cindy will answer anything that folks are interested in talking about,” Soffer said. “Our big thing is that we want to show up everywhere and talk to everyone and hear what they have to say.”

Soffer said that the 105th district of Missouri holds one of the highest percentages of college-aged students than any other district in the state. Because of that, Soffer hopes that this event will encourage Lindenwood students to vote.

“The issue of voting is important to us, we are working hard to register as many [citizens] as we can,” Soffer said. “We’re trying to make sure that everyone can get out to vote, and that’s a pretty dark contrast to what you’re seeing in the republican party today with the secretary of state instituting laws that are making it harder for folks to register to vote, making it harder for people to register other people to vote and we think our democracy functions better when people have the opportunity to vote.”

While the district has high rates of college aged-students, Soffer said that the political race for the House seat is one of the closest in the state as well.

“I think students at Lindenwood are fortunate that they have a real competitive [race] on their hands and they can play a big role in deciding who wins,” Soffer said. “Obviously students who are over 18 can vote and we hope that they will register by Oct. 12 to participate in the election.”