Nearly all city candidates pledge to participate in OWN forum Feb. 24

       Nearly a 100 percent turnout of city election hopefuls is anticipated for the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) candidate forum Thursday, Feb. 24.
       The event will start at 6:30 p.m. in the gym at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St. OWN board members expect it to last until about 8 p.m., with chances to meet candidates before (starting at 5 p.m.) and after (until 9 p.m.) In addition, candidates can set up information tables in the gym, and the Westside Center concession stand will be open throughout, said its director, Dick Siever.
       The public is invited. However, the forum agenda does not allow for questions from the floor. OWN board members spent much of their meeting last week brainstorming hot topics for the Westside and the city in general that could be turned into queries.
       Potential questions will be sent to the candidates in advance (so they'll have time to prepare studied answers), the board decided.
       The forum program will be structured so that District 3 (which includes most of the older Westside) will go first, followed by at-large and then mayor.
       For the two candidates in District 3, this could mean getting the chance to answer as many as nine questions in the 20 minutes OWN has allotted for that contest.
       This calculation is based on the 50-second cut-off for answers that OWN members said they plan to enforce, plus a one-minute closing statement for each.
       But because of the large number of candidates in the races for mayor (9 total, 8 expected) and at-large (16 total, 15 expected), there likely won't be time for more than three questions for each candidate, OWN board members determined at their recent meeting.
       The mayor's segment is slated to last 40 minutes and the at-large just under an hour.
       According to OWN President Welling Clark, all candidates were invited; as of this week, he reported only two who won't be there (Steve Bach, mayor; and Tim Leigh, at-large council).
       OWN board members came up with about 25 questions, not all of which will be used. Potential questions touch on such matters as a new Cimarron/I-25 interchange, historic overlays, civic improvements west of 31st Street, funding for neighborhood centers, the TABOR law, developmental infill, changes to PERA, funding for parks and a return of the Stormwater Enterprise.
       OWN is the city-recognized advocacy group for the older Westside.

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