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Congressional Forum Highlights Candidates
Congress cands
Congressional hopefuls looking to fill the 10th District seat currently held by Jeff Denham appeared in a candidate forum this past week. From left, Mike Barkley, Michael Eggman, Josh Harder, Ted Howze, Virginia Madueno, Sue Zwahlen. Marg Jackson/The Times

Six candidates seeking the 10th Congressional District seat turned out for a special forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters and the local American Association of University Women - Oakdale, Riverbank, Escalon Branch (AAUW-ORE).

On hand for the Wednesday, April 25 forum hosted at the Bianchi Community Center in Oakdale were Democrats Mike Barkley, Michael Eggman, Josh Harder, Virginia Madueno, and Sue Zwahlen; and Republican Jeff Howze. Organizers noted the only candidate not appearing was Republican Jeff Denham, who currently holds the seat; he was in Washington, D.C. and could not attend the forum.

Each candidate had the opportunity to provide an opening statement that offered a bit of biographical information and comments as to why they want to fill the post. Questions came from the audience, with each candidate given one minute to respond to each. The forum ran from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and covered topics ranging from the tax bill to immigration reform, social security to health care.

“We had almost 200 people attending,” noted AAUW spokeswoman Judy Kropp. “The candidates said it was the best attended forum they had attended so far.”

Kropp welcomed the audience to the Wednesday night forum and also noted that May 21 is the last day to register to vote for this year’s election. Attendees could register to vote that night if they hadn’t already.

“Absentee ballots are due to come out soon and hopefully more people will vote than usually do in off-election years,” Kropp said. “California has an open primary so voters can vote for a candidate from any party. In the 2020 Presidential election year, voters will only be able to vote for the candidates in their party or none if they register as ‘Decline to State’.”

The primary is on Tuesday, June 5. All the candidates agreed they are running because they feel a change in representation is needed, turning Denham out of office, and each feels they are best suited to the job and the most capable of defeating the incumbent.

“With the large crowd and limited time, many questions went unasked,” Kropp noted.

To that end, plans are being made for another forum in September, after the June primary sets the stage for November.

“More questions will be asked because of having only two candidates for the November election,” Kropp said.