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Midland Group Tries to Boost Local Voter Participation by Hosting Mayoral Forum

Anum Valliani
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - The League of Women Voters set up shop in Midland in the 1940's. Now, they're pushing for more voters- especially more men. But they also say it's important to keep the women, not only in the race, but also in the voting booths.  

"The more involved women become the better it is for everybody," Pat Stanley, Programming VP of the organization, said.

That's because nationwide, a higher percentage of women vote in comparison to men, "but it also isn't a matter of numbers so much as it is the mentality," she said.

In Midland, it seems the problem is getting anybody to show up to the polls.

"It was sadly less than 20 percent of people voting here in Midland. We have a population of over 100,000 people, but in the last local election, only about 7,000 people came," Leah Payne, Public Relations Director of the League, said.

That was in the 2011 elections, but this time, the League of Women Voters of Midland wants to change things. The non-partisan group hosted a forum for the candidates to answer questions and bring in more educated voters.

Representatives said that it's rare for the city to have more than four candidates. 

Despite being a grassroots organization initially founded to promote women's suffrage, the League boasts males within its body as well.

"I just think it's important to have both men and women care enough to do this," Stanley said.

But they also can't remember the last time there was a female mayor.

In attendance at Midland College on Monday night, there was a mix of people from young to old. There, candidates answered questions from the moderator and the public.

"I saw a couple of the Q&A cards. One of them of course was, where do you see Midland in the next five years? One of them was about the Energy Tower and then one of them was, 'Why do you want to be mayor?'" Payne said.

There were also other hot topics like price gouging in the housing market.

The League of Women Voters encourages voters to go out and meet the candidates and remember that early voting starts on October 21. 
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