In this unprecedented year for adjusting how we gather and how we run events, one unique event that needs adjustment are the Meet the Candidates events that typically occur in election years. Typically, in September and October of election years (for us, the even-numbered years) the chambers of commerce and other local organizations will have candidate breakfast or in-person forums so citizens, and business leaders, can meet the candidates for state offices.

Yet, with this year being different then all others, we needed to find a way to still bring you this type of event, but safely. The Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber has solved those issues with a new two-part event happening online this fall. With the support of several business leaders and the gracious flexibility of the candidates themselves, you will have a chance to meet the candidates to find out who they are.

The first part of the online event begins the week of Sept. 28-Oct. 2. Over the past week or so, the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber has been doing individual 10-minute interviews with each candidate for the nine races in our chamber area. We are calling the events “2020 Candidate One-on-One Interviews.”  Admittedly, it’s not the most creative name we have ever come up with, but it let’s people know exactly what it is.

Ten minutes seems like a long time, but after introductions, it leaves time for about three questions for the candidate to answer. Through these videos you will get a good feel for who this candidate is, why they are passionate about running for office and what some of the key issues are in their opinion. For me, as the interviewer, I’ve been blown away by the amount of different topics and diversity of views on many subjects.

It’s important to note that the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber does not endorse candidates. We are simply doing this because we feel like this information is extremely important for our citizens, our businesses and for fairness in the election. I say fairness because, if we’re giving every candidate the same opportunity to be heard then you have a better chance of getting to know them. Candidates are struggling right now, because of a lack of door knocking, community events and other in-person forums. For some, this no-cost video with the Chamber becomes a great tool that they can share on Facebook and other social media so people can get a chance to meet them.

Additionally, it should be noted that the one-on-one series is sponsored by Priority Real Estate Group as they are supportive of the Chamber bringing this kind of need-to-know information to the people of our region. To that end, just because Priority is sponsoring this informative series, does not mean they are endorsing any candidate either- they are simply supporting the chamber in our goal of helping you.

The interviews are being wrapped up soon and will debut next week on both the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber Facebook page, and the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber YouTube page. Starting Monday, Sept. 28 we will be releasing the videos on the Facebook page with a link to the YouTube video. We encourage you to watch them and share them on your Facebook page and other social media. There is a great chance that you have many friends on social media who live in our area too, and wouldn’t be great if we blanketed social media with these positive videos introducing our candidates about one month before the election? Your help will really impact the success of this program, so we encourage you to share them wherever you can.

The Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber covers 16 communities, with the biggest by population being Brunswick, Bath, Topsham and Harpswell. However our chamber region also includes: Arrowsic, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Dresden, Edgecomb, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Richmond, West Bath, Westport Island, Wiscasset, Woolwich.

Therefore we have nine state races, with two races for State Senate and seven races for State House of Representatives. Surprisingly, we have only two candidates per race this year, so we will be releasing 18 candidate videos next week. The videos will be released in such a way that both candidates for a particular seat will have their videos released at the same time.

As an example, let’s use the two Senate races. On Monday morning, Sept. 28, at 10 a.m. we will release the videos for both candidates for Senate District 23, Holly Kopp (R) and Eloise Vitelli (D). Then at 2 p.m. that day we will release the videos for both candidates in the Senate District 24 race, Mattie Daughtry (D) and Brad Pattershall (R). On Tuesday we will release the videos for both candidates from two different races, and so on.

The second part of the Meet The Candidates series will be online Zoom forums. The plan is we will have three candidate Zoom forums in the month of October. One forum will be the two senate races, and we will split the seven House races between the other two calls. We are inviting the public to join us for these events- we literally want you!

If you haven’t used Zoom before, it is a simple link you click on and then enter a virtual meeting room. People on the call will pop up on the screen in boxes like the opening credits to the Brady Bunch. Zoom uses the camera and microphone on your device.

The candidates will each get 5 minutes to introduce themselves, and then we will have 20-30 minutes of Q & A. As the executive director of the chamber I will moderate the discussion, but we will be accepting questions before the event.

More details to come on the forums as we are still trying to find dates and times for the candidates. However, we feel this is a great way to bring you the information you need and we are proud to be able to do it.

Cory King is the executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: