HIBBING — Five down, and two to go — at least in Hibbing.

Local political candidates of two Hibbing races are scheduled to square off on the issues beginning at 5 p.m. today, as the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce hosts its last in a series of forums that began exactly two weeks ago today.

From 5 to 6:15 p.m., Hibbing City Council Council Ward 1 candidates James Bayliss and Patty Schafer will share their stances.

From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., a second round of Hibbing School Board candidates will be quizzed. Those scheduled to attend include: Shawn Cox, Paul Ciochetto, Dave Olds, Tony Kuznik, Verne Cary, Amber Babich and Kathy Nyberg.

They are a mix of two-year and four-year candidates.

Six vying for a seat on the Hibbing School Board fielded questions earlier this month. That forum featured: Jeff Polcher, Marge Martin, Joe Sacco, Tara Pajunen, Nicole Furey and Peter Hardy. John Berklich and Rian Burkes were scheduled to participate in this forum but were absent.

“The Chamber has held these forums for many years because we feel it is important that people get a good look at the candidates so they make a wise decision when they walk into a voting booth,” said Lory Fedo, president of the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce. “Making an informed vote is critical to how democracy works.”

Questions are expected on a variety of topics, namely local issues and state issues that may be pertinent on the local level. Candidates do not know the questions in advance, and question for this round of school board candidates will be different than the first forum.

The forums will be held Hibbing City Hall council chambers. Watch this forum live and the Oct. 9 forum on-demand on Hibbing Public Access Television’s website at hpat.org, or look for replays on HPAT Channel 7.



Election candidates are scheduled to square off on the issues as the Chisholm Chamber of Commerce and Chisholm Community Education co-host forums.

The forums are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Chisholm Senior Citizen Center. Steve Potts, history/political science instructor at Hibbing Community College, will moderate.

School board candidates will be featured first, followed by city council candidates. There will be a five-minute intermission.

Candidates are as follows:

• School board director four-year term (three open seats): Patricia Kestly, Ione Tomasetti, Jaclyn Corradi Simon, Kim Giermann, Shelly Lappi, Todd Reinke and Cindy Rice.

• Mayor, four-year term: Mary Jo Rahja and John Champa

• City councilor four-year term (two open seats): Cheyenne Mikkola-Rahja, Beau Buncich, Adam Lantz and April Larson

• City councilor two-year term: Marty Halverson and Travis Vake

Organizers were still finalizing details as of press time. The total time of the forums is estimated to be 3 hours. Coffee and cookies will be served.

Three questions will be posed to the school board candidates. There will also be three questions posed to the mayoral and city council candidates.

There will be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions of the candidates. Audience members will be asked to write down questions on provided notecards, which will be given to the moderator.

Organizers are hoping to have the forum televised, but have yet to confirm.


Congressional forum

The Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce and the Laurentian Chamber of Commerce will co-host a forum for the 8th District Congressional Candidates.

Set for 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30., at Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm, the public will have an opportunity to hear from candidates former state Representative Joe Radinovich (D) and St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber (R). Independence party candidate Skip Sandman also has been invited.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Hibbing Area Chamber to bring the candidates together in this setting,” said Melissa Cox, president/CEO of the Laurentian Chamber of Commerce. “It will give our members and the community a chance to learn more about these candidates and their positions on issues that are important to Iron Range families.”

Hibbing Chamber President Lory Fedo said it’s been years since they’ve co-hosted such a forum.

“This is a significant race for our region and the state,” she added. “They will be a lot of eyes on this one.”

A meet and greet will start at 4:30 p.m. with light hors d’oeuvres. The Government Affairs and Legislative Affairs Committees of both chambers have been working collaboratively to make this possible.

Together, the two regional chambers represent more than 700 businesses and five of the largest Iron Range communities.

People are welcome to submit questions for the forum via email to info@hibbing.org. However, due to time constraints, there is no guarantee all questions will be asked.

The general election will be conducted on Tuesday, Nov. 6.


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