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Who are your candidates?

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By Carol A. Clark

The June 3 primary election is looming large and leaving voters just weeks to analyze the candidates. The race for United States Senate is particularly important this political season because New Mexico will lose the powerful support of Sen. Pete Domenici on Dec. 31.Domenici has championed Los Alamos National Laboratory in Washington for more than three decades. Fellow Republicans Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce, currently serving in Congress, are vying to fill the void Domenici’s retirement will leave.The candidates have agreed to participate in a live debate from 7-9 p.m. Friday at Duane Smith Auditorium. Sponsored by the Monitor, in cooperation with the League of Women Voters of Los Alamos and the county Republican Party, the debate is open to the public and free to attend. Chris Chandler, president of the League of Women Voters of Los Alamos, stated that the League is pleased to be supporting the debate. “We view our primary mission as one that promotes informed and active participation in the political process and government,” Chandler said.The local League has a long history of organizing public forums on issues of concern to the community. Since 1947, candidate debates and forums have been an essential part of the nonprofit organization’s voter education program and Chandler said they expect to be very active organizing other forums before November’s general election.The local League is a nonpartisan political organization, which encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.The League has two separate and distinct roles:• voter service and citizen education – presenting unbiased nonpartisan information about elections, the voting process, and issues; and• action/advocacy – while nonpartisan, after study, the League uses its positions to advocate for or against particular policies in the public interest.The League publishes “Who’s in Charge” that is a compendium of information and contacts for the government of Los Alamos County. Printed copies are available at the Mesa Public and White Rock Branch libraries. The League also publishes Voters Guides prior to major elections. “I encourage Los Alamos residents to attend the debate to better understand the positions and views of the candidates,” Chandler said. “There are a number of open, uncontested races this year. Voter registration is more important than ever.”Friday’s debate includes panelists from the Monitor, KRQE Channel 13 and the League of Women Voters of Los Alamos. The League of Women Voters of New Mexico is providing the debate moderator and providing a timekeeper to keep the candidates on track. The Republican Party of Los Alamos is supplying event workers and KRSN Radio is broadcasting the debate live on 1490 AM.Questions from the public are being sought prior to the debate and also will be collected at the auditorium Friday. E-mail questions to Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com.