Indiana Town Halls (www.Indianatownhalls.org) and WFYI Productions today announced that its Fifth District Congressional Primary Town Halls will be webcast using Zoom technology on Monday and Tuesday, May 11 and 12.
Fourteen Republican and four Democratic candidates will participate. Jim Shella, former political reporter for WISH-TV and former host of Indiana Week in Review on WFYI, will moderate.
The Republican Town Halls will be webcast in two sessions on the evening of Monday, May 11. Town Hall #1 will begin at 6:30 PM. Participants will be Kent Abernathy, Andrew Bales, Micah Beckwith, Carl Brizzi, Allen Davidson, Charles Dietzen, and Beth Henderson. Town Hall #2 will begin at 8:00 PM. Participants will be Matt Hook, Matt Hullinger, Kelly Mitchell, Danny Niederberger, Mark Small, Victoria Spartz, and Russell Stwalley. The candidates were scheduled in alphabetical order.
The Democratic Town Hall will be webcast at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, May 12. Participants will be Jennifer Christie, Christina Hale, Andrew Jacobs, and Dee Thornton.
The link to the live video stream will be available on the Indiana Town Halls website, www.IndianaTownHalls.org. Alternatively, citizens can access the Republican webcasts directly at https://www.wfyi.org/programs/fifth-town-hall-republican-2020 and the Democratic Town Hall at https://www.wfyi.org/programs/fifth-district-town-hall-democrat-2020. A recording of both Town Halls will be available for viewing any time prior to the June 2 election.
During the Town Halls, candidates will be in their respective homes/offices, and the moderator will be in the WFYI studio. All candidates will be asked the same questions and will have a chance to respond. After the forum, the interviews will be posted in full. Within a few days, the Town Hall videos will be organized by candidate and by question, so that voters can listen to individuals or to all responses to a given issue.
Les Zwirn, Director of the Indiana Town Halls project, said the program is intended to strengthen citizens’ confidence in the election system. “Our goal is to give voters an opportunity to listen to the candidates and learn their values and ideas, in an educational and non-confrontational setting, so voters can make a more informed choice of the candidate(s) likely to earn their vote,” he said.
Questions will come directly from the moderator and were provided by district residents.
Indiana Town Halls selected the Fifth District to test its new Town Hall concept because the “District is the most hotly contested Congressional election in Indiana this year. It is conceivable that the general election candidate from one or both of the Parties will be decided by a few dozen primary votes,” according to Zwirn.
Indiana State Representative Ed DeLaney (D), one of the program’s founders, noted, “Before the current crisis, I thought an online forum was a good way for candidates to convey their views to citizens. Now, with the pandemic removing the ability to canvass door-to-door or host group gatherings, candidates definitely need to take advantage of every opportunity to get in front of the public.”
About Indiana Town Halls
Indiana Town Halls is a new, nonpartisan organization dedicated to strengthening conﬁdence, trust and accountability in an election system perceived by half of Americans to be “rigged.” Congressional candidates and citizens will come together in a civic learning atmosphere that is less contentious than traditional debates.
The idea of citizen-driven town halls was inspired by the groundbreaking and well-attended bi-partisan, bi-cameral Town Halls that Indiana State Senator John Ruckelshaus (R) and Indiana State Representative Carey Hamilton (D) started in 2016.
Indiana Town Hall founders are DeLaney, Ruckelshaus, Shella and Zwirn.
Partners include WFYI Productions, the Indiana Citizen Education Foundation, Inc., the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue University-Ft. Wayne, Indiana Campus Compact, and Informing to Empower Media.