CUMBERLAND, Md. – To help Western Maryland voters inform themselves about candidates for Congress in the state’s 6th District, Allegany College of Maryland is hosting a candidates forum Saturday, March 24.
All five Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in the April 3 primary election plan to attend and all eight of the Republican candidates, including incumbent U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, will be present, according to their campaigns.
This Congressional forum, featuring a two-hour session for each party’s candidates, is presented by ACM’s State and Local Governments class in conjunction with Frostburg State University’s J. Glenn Beall Jr. Institute for Public Affairs.
“This is a great opportunity for the citizens of both Allegany and Garrett counties to become better informed, and to allow all of us to make a better decision about who will represent us in the U.S. Congress,” said Tim Magrath, the Beall Institute’s executive director.
“Important issues are being discussed in Washington, D.C., and we need a strong voice to represent us.”
The two higher education groups are collaborating with the Democratic and Republication Central Committees in Allegany and Garrett counties and the Garrett County Democrat Club to stage the event.
The four political committees have been invited to develop questions for their party’s candidates and which will be delivered by a moderator. The candidates will have time to introduce themselves beforehand and also time for concluding remarks. A debate format is envisioned.
The Democratic forum will feature candidates Charles Bailey, John Delaney, state Sen. Robert Garagiola, Ronald Little and Dr. Milad Pooran. The moderator will be Stephen Moylan, Garrett County’s public defender.
The session for Republican candidates includes state Delegate Kathy Afzali, state Sen. David Brinkley, Robert Coblentz, Robin Ficker, Peter James, Joseph Krysztoforski and Brandon Rippeon in addition to Bartlett, who has held the U.S. House of Representatives seat for 20 years.
The Democratic session will be held from 4 to 6 p.m., while that for the Republicans is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Both sessions will be held in ACM’s Center for Continuing Education.
ACM students in Assistant Professor Thomas Behrendt’s political science class are working as part of a class project to stage the Congressional forum. These students also plan to compile a comprehensive guide to the candidates in a further aid to voters.
“This project has allowed many students in my class to actively participate in government for the very first time while learning that they can make great things happen through sheer determination and coordinated effort,” Behrendt said.
As the newly redrawn 6th District has attracted keen interest and numerous candidates in both parties, Behrendt commended the initiative of his class in organizing what will be the first Congressional debate in this region in decades.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my students,” he said. “This is a tremendous service to their college and their community.”
In addition to the candidates, organizers are inviting other office holders as guests to the forum, including those at the municipal, county, state and federal levels. Several have indicated that they plan to attend.
For more information call Behrendt at 301-784-5300. Information will also available be available on the Web sites of both ACM (www.allegany.edu) and FSU (www.frostburg.edu).