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Resident organizes voter forum

by | Mar 30, 2023 | Latest

Organizer long active in electoral process

Candidates for the Murphy City Council, Plano ISD board and Collin College board of trustees have been invited to attend a voter education forum from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, April 17. 

The event will be in the Murphy council chambers, 206 N. Murphy Road, but is not sponsored by the city, any political party or advocacy group.

The forum is presented by Maggie Whitt of Murphy, who described herself as a concerned citizen who wants voters to be informed.

She began hosting forums several years ago when the League of Women Voters cancelled an event it had scheduled in Murphy.

Whitt said the forum would be good for voters wanting more information on local elections such as the city council as well as candidates such as those running for the Collin College board of trustees who would have to campaign over the entire county.

“It saves them a lot of block-walking time,” she said. “It is useful for them to all come together and have a nice audience.”

Council candidates receiving invitations included Murphy Mayor Scott Bradley, who is running unopposed for re-election; Place 3 Councilmember Andrew Chase and challenger W. Scott Smith, Place 5 Councilmember Sarah Fincanon and opponent Laura Deel.

Collin College Board of Trustees candidates invited included Place 1 incumbent Fred Moses and challenger Megan Wallace, Place 2 incumbent Jay Saad and opponents Scott Coleman and Philip Timmons, and Place 3 incumbent Stacey Donald and challengers Cathie Alexander and Joe Minissale. Timmons said he would not attend, Whitt said.

Plano ISD board candidates invited included Place 4 competitors Tarrah Lantz, Lydia Ortega and Margaret Turner-Carrigan; Place 5 contenders Greg Jubenville, Michael Cook and Khalid Ishaq; and Place 7 incumbent Cody Weaver and challengers Katherine Chan Goodwin and Simon Salinas. Weaver scheduled a “Coffee with Cody” event at the Murphy Community Center, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Friday, April 14.

Candidates could set up tables outside the chamber to meet and greet voters and Whitt encouraged them to stay after the forum to answer any questions that did not get asked.

Although local restaurants may donate light refreshments for the candidates and voters, Whitt said there is no charge to attend. “I am doing this for free and doing this out of my own pocket,” she said. “It is a good thing to have something local for residents to have access to people they may vote for.”

She said in addition to a few local volunteers, she would ask high school students to assist in handing out and collecting index cards for audience members to submit questions.

“If they have clubs where kids need service hours they can come,” she said, adding, “They need to be exposed to this kind of thing so they kind of get how local government works.”

Officeholders who are not running or are unopposed are welcome to address the group, Whitt said.

Since there would be candidates from three different ballots, each group would be questioned separately, she said. 

Whitt said she would serve as moderator. “Each candidate will have one minute to sell themselves initially and one minute to make a closing statement,” she said. “After we get the candidates seated, I plan to randomly draw questions and ask them.”

Police would be on hand to enforce order, she said. Anybody who shouted or caused a disturbance would be “promptly escorted out.”

The role is a familiar one for Whitt, who has been involved in the electoral process for years. “A lot of people know me around town,” she admitted.

A retired teacher, she has been a member of the State Republican Executive Committee from Senate District 8 since 2020, a two-time delegate to the state GOP convention, a member of the Murphy Ethics Review Commission, a member of the Murphy Animal Shelter Board, a Republican precinct chair and president of her HOA in The Timbers neighborhood.

Whitt said voters need to understand that local elections can be as important as statewide or national balloting. “I try to wake people up,” she said. “Local candidates make a lot of decisions that affect you. Did you get your recent tax bill and are you happy with it?”

Asked whether she considered herself worthy of note during Women’s History Month as playing a vital role in American history, Whitt said, “I’m not into self-aggrandizing but I do care about inspiring others to take risks, pursue their passions and make this world a better place. It’s why I was a public school teacher for 30-plus years.

By Bob Wieland

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