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Calvin To Host 75th District Candidate Forum
April 25, 2006

A whole league of student groups from Calvin College and other local colleges and universities will host a "Candid Candidate Conversation: A 75th District Candidate Forum," featuring the three contenders for the 75th District House of Representatives seat currently held by Rep. Jerry Kooiman.

The event will be sponsored by the Calvin College Republicans, the Calvin political science department, the college's Pi Sigma Alpha chapter, the Aquinas Democrats, and the GVSU College Republicans.

It will take place at 6:30 pm on Thursday, May 4 in the Gezon Auditorium at Calvin. A short reception follows the forum.

"We are elated that so many different groups have decided to join with the Calvin College Republicans in this effort," says Calvin sophomore Tyler Petrini, chair of the organization. "The unity exhibited by the coming together of such diverse groups foreshadows the unity we hope to see at the forum."

The bipartisan event was designed to introduce the residents of the 75th District (Calvin's district) to the three candidates they will choose from on the ballot in November 2006, and to increase awareness of the local issues that could be handled by the winner of that election.

"It's a debate-style conversation, not a strict debate," says Petrini, a Byron Center native and graduate of Byron Center High School. "We wanted to give everyone a chance to see who and what the candidates are about."

Sharing the podium that night will be Republican Christian "Chris" Meyer, a 1990 Calvin graduate and lawyer for Warner, Norcross and Judd; Rev. Robert Dean, a Democrat and former Grand Rapids city commissioner; and Republican Tim Doyle, an attorney for the Kent County Prosecutor's Office.

Petrini says his group is hoping to get a large and diverse audience at the event.

"We don't want only the supporters of the candidate to show up because everyone will leave with their opinions unchanged," he says. "It won't introduce people to anything new."

He says he hopes that the forum will showcase a variety of Christian political views.

"The perspectives encompassed by the three candidates aren't polarized," he says. "They all cover issues that Christians can grasp and relate to.

"I think it is important that we let people know that we all have our different opinions, and there's a real danger in claiming that God is all on one side. One side of politics can't decide what a Christian viewpoint is."

He's excited about the event because it demonstrates the importance of local politics.

"The presidential election and the other elections are given a lot more play because a bigger audience is taking part in them. But if anything is happening in the local scenes, it's going to be enacted by the local politicians. And you actually do have a say in this election because of the narrow margins of victory and defeat. These elections can be won by tens of votes or by one vote."

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson