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League of Women Voters debates kick off Thursday

The League of Women Voters is hosting debates on March 7 and 14 ahead of the March 26 general town election. FILE PHOTO

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The Winchester League of Women Voters is hosting two candidate forums in the Jenks Center, 109 Skillings Road, ahead of the March 26 election.

“The debates will give candidates a chance to outline their priorities if elected and answer voter questions,” said League member Marie Lee, the debate organizer.

The forums will be livestreamed by WinCAM Community Media Center. 

On March 7, there will be an informal meet-and-greet opportunity with  Town Meeting candidates divided by precinct from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

According to the Town Clerk’s office, in Precincts 1-8, there are elections for a total of 64 Town Meeting members across the eight precincts. Most seats carry three-year terms, but there are vacancies for one-year special election seats in Precincts 1, 5, and 8 due to resignations or members switching precincts.

“People can just go and informally chat with those who are running,” Lee explained.

This will be followed by a debate from 7:30-8:30 p.m. with all four Select Board candidates participating.

Questions for candidates were solicited from Winchester voters and organizations, with repeated interest expressed regarding issues like civil discourse and zoning regulations near the MBTA commuter rail station.

“We solicited questions from the voters in town,” said Lee. “And we got quite a good response for a debate. There were a number of questions that came up repeatedly. So clearly, there's interest in those issues.”

On March 14, there will again be a chance to informally meet Town Meeting candidates from 6:30-7 p.m. Then from 7-7:30 p.m., the two candidates for Winchester Housing Authority will debate.

“I would say it is rare for there to be a contested race for housing authority,” said League member Susan Verdicchio, who has previously served on both the Select Board and School Committee.

Finally, from 7:30-8:30 p.m., five candidates running for two open seats on the School Committee will participate in a debate. All School Committee seats carry three-year terms.

The forums aim to help voters make informed choices on candidates and major issues, according to the League.

“Basically, we want voters to be informed and know who and what they’re voting for,” Lee said.

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