By Herb Meeker

News Report Staff

Effingham County Chamber of Commerce and the County Farm Bureau will offer voters a chance to hear Illinois General Assembly and county candidates in the March primary election answer questions during a political forum on the morning of Thursday, March 1.

The forum, featuring regional and county candidates in contested races, will start at 8:30 a.m. at the Effingham Holiday Inn. The public is invited to sit in.

Questions for the candidates have been compiled by election committee members with the Farm Bureau and Chamber of Commerce, plus members of local news organizations, including the Effingham & Teutopolis News Report. Eric Zeller will be the moderator for the forum.

Candidates facing races in the March 20 Primary invited to the forum are 107th State Representative Republicans Blaine Wilhour, of Beecher City, and Laura Myers, Greenville. Also invited are Republican 109th incumbent David Reis, Willow Hill, and GOP challenger, Darren Bailey, Xenia. Also asked to participate are 54th State Senate GOP hopefuls Jason Plummer, Edwardsville, Rafael Him, New Baden, George Barber, Greenville, and Benjamin Stratemeyer, Centralia.

Effingham’s David Seiler, seeking the 107th State Rep. Democratic nomination, and Cynthia Given, Olney, who is campaigning for the Democratic Party’s nod in the 109th, are both unopposed, but they will also participate in the forum. The order of appearance has the county treasurer candidates first at 8:45 a.m., followed at 9 a.m. by the State Representative candidates. The State Senate candidates will field questions at 10 a.m.

The abundance of General Assembly candidates this election is due to two incumbents, State Rep. John Cavaletto and State Sen. Dale Righter, not seeking re-election. There are many more lawmakers ending their terms in 2018.

On the other hand, there is only one race in the Effingham County Primary this year. Effingham County Treasurer Republican candidates Paula Miller and Sheila Bauer have been asked to the forum to speak.

Norma Lansing, Chamber Executive Director, said this forum, like others sponsored by the Chamber in the past, gives voters from this or surrounding counties a chance to see and hear the candidates speak on various issues. It is a good way for gaining information on the election issues, she said.

Of course, voters have two tasks after this forum. One involves voting for the candidate of their choice in March and then in the general election on November 6.