Presidential forums show success, draw large audiences
By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times
WINDOW ROCK, July 10, 2014
There have been two forums so far sponsored primarily by the two media organizations and three more are scheduled – one in July and two in August.
Tom Arviso, CEO/publisher of the Navajo Times Publishing Company, said he has been getting a lot of positive feedback from people who have been at the forums or have heard it on the radio or seen it on the Internet.
"The first forum was held in Pinon and was sponsored by a different group, but it got the ball rolling," said Arviso. "We had a huge turnout at our first forum in Shiprock and then again at Tuba City. With KTNN providing live radio coverage, the candidates are getting a lot of valuable exposure."
These forums, he said, have given the Navajo voters a better understanding of each candidate's platform and with 17 candidates, that's been a big help as many of the candidates are not well known to the voting public.
The forums themselves have drawn big crowds, about 600 at Shiprock and 500 at Tuba City, and Arviso said they have been a very vocal audience.
"The live audiences have been great. They cheer on their favorite candidate and they respond when they hear something they like, or don't like," said Arviso. "The candidates have also done a great job. We have a tight time schedule and so they use the minutes they get to the best of their ability. Those are valuable minutes in the spotlight because thousands of Navajo voters are listening all across the country."
The next forum is set for July 21 at Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint. NTU will host the forum in their new gymnasium with the doors opening at 4 p.m. and the candidates doing a meet-and-greet session from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The actual forum, which will be broadcast live by KTNN-KWRK, will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The Crownpoint forum will also stream live on the Internet through NTU. The log-in address will be given to the public as soon as it has been officially established.
"We had a live stream at Shiprock but not at Tuba City and many people were not happy about that," said Arviso. "So, we are now making sure that we do have a live stream over the Internet at the final three forums. The staff and students at NTU will provide the live stream there."
Campaigning by the candidates and their supporters have been limited at the past forum venues but that will change at Crownpoint. According to Arviso, candidates will be allowed to set up a table inside a hall that leads to the new gymnasium or they can have one outside if they so desire.
"Dr. Elmer Guy and his staff at NTU have been real supportive and are excited to host this next forum on their campus and in their brand new gym," said Arviso. "They are allowing the candidates to set up their tables and signs and to make it a real festive event."
Arviso expects to have all 17 candidates in attendance, along with their families, friends and supporters.
"All of the candidates will be there and so the Navajo voters of the Eastern Agency and surrounding areas will have a chance to see who they are and hear what they have to offer," said Arviso. "Navajo tribal elections, historically, are always a lively time for the Navajo people. It draws the people together in a unique kind of way.
"That's why we are hosting these forums in different parts of the Navajo Reservation. We want the voters to come together at the forums to see and hear the candidates. Then, go and vote on Aug. 26 in the primary election," said Arviso. "Come out to Crownpoint on July 21 or listen to KTNN. It will be a great, fun day and an exciting and interesting forum."
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