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Resources

These samples are from previous Candidates' Nights. Feel free to download them and use them as a resource when hosting your local candidates' night.
pdf Brochure: Tips for Planning and Conducting Candidate Forums
pdf Sample Format & Guidelines
pdf Sample Forum Questions,
New Bedford, MA, October 2007
pdf Sample Candidates' Night Questions
pdf Sample Candidates' Night Report
   

Sample Letters

Letters to New Bedford City Council,
June 2007
pdf Letter to David Alves
pdf Letter to Brian Gomes
pdf Debora Coelho
pdf Letter to Denis Lawrence
pdf Letter Jane Goncalves
pdf Letter to John Saunders
pdf Letter to Leo Pimental
   

 

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Conducting a Candidates’ Night

Candidates' NIghtHosting a candidates’ night is a complement to the get-out-the-vote initiatives and registration drives also conducted by the Project. Candidates' nights create well informed citizens, allowing them to make the most use of their voting power.

To stage a candidates’ night,” first, determine which political office you wish to focus upon. For example, the school committee, the city council, the mayor, state or federal officials. (Generally the lower the political office, the greater the impact of a candidates’ forum. School committee candidates would be more responsive to a community’s invitation than congressional candidates.)

Next, determine the timing for the event. In some areas, a candidates’ night after the first primary eliminates casual candidates and leaves only serious contenders. In other areas with one dominant political party, a forum should be staged before the primary election if, after the primary election, there would be no meaningful contest. Once the time is decided, the organizers must send invitations as soon as possible to all candidates for the office in question to get the event on everyone’s campaign calendar.

Once the political office and timing decisions are made, a committee must be organized to determine the key questions to put before the candidates. Experience has shown that focusing on four or five key points leaves the candidates with a clear understanding of the community’s concerns.

Finally, record the entire proceedings for later review. Committee members should document each and every promise made by the candidates. 

Once the elections are over, a letter should be sent to each successful candidate congratulating him or her on their win and requesting an appointment midway through their term of office. The committee can then use the notes from the candidates’ night to review each political office holder’s progress in fulfilling his/her campaign pledges.

Additional Resources

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops “Tips for Conducting Candidate Forums” from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. This section provides ideas on arranging the forum and legal considerations for staging a non-partisan debate. See the following Faithful Citizenship web site.

The Portuguese American Citizenship Project has compiled a workbook with material from participating organizations. Please contact the Project Coordinator for a copy of this workbook. The workbook includes :

  • Santa Clara Background Material - from The Portuguese American forum of Santa Clara, California. This section provides sample letters of invitation, rules for conducting a candidates’ night, and pictures from one of their candidates’ night events.
  • Fall River Background Material - from the Social Justice Committee of St. Michael’s Parish, Fall River, Massachusetts. This section provides invitation letters, press releases, questions posed to the candidates, a video recording of the candidates’ night, and a compilation of promises made by candidates during the event.
  • New Bedford Background Material - from the Immigrant Assistance Center and Mount Carmel Parish of New Bedford. This section provides invitation letters, press releases, questions posed to the candidates, a video recording of the candidates’ night, and a compilation of promises made by candidates during the event.