Political forum tackles issues

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SANDPOINT — While political conversation has always been a minefield, a respectful dialogue about the big issues is becoming a rarer and rarer occasion.

However, a political forum Tuesday night managed to reclaim some of that respectful candor. Organized by Mike Nash, the forum brought together some prominent local personalities on both the right and left sides of the political spectrum.

“One of the goals of the evening was to show no matter where you stand, no one thinks exactly alike,” Nash said.

The forum drew around 30 audience members who turned out to watch the panel members discuss some of the biggest headline issues in the nation. The left-leaning panel included Bob Wynhausen, Laura Bry, Jason Benell and Jim Ramsey, while their conservative counterparts included Danielle Ahrens, Sage Dixon, Allen Hacker and Leah Southwell.

From the beginning, Nash emphasized that the panel members treat one another with respect and dignity, taking care not to disparage one another personally or mock opinions. By the time the forum ended, he was very pleased with the results.

The first 45 minutes of the forum centered on opinions about the Affordable Care Act and what should be done with it. Afterward, the panels tackled other big issues, like military spending and the modern polarization of Americans.

Comment cards and conversations with audience members afterward revealed that the event was well worth the effort. Most agreed that they’d return for another forum and felt the evening produced meaningful dialogue.

“People stayed around for about a half-hour afterward to continue the conversation,” Nash said. “I was really happy to see that.”

Nash said he intends to follow up with another chance to bring community members and political commentators together for more conversation. The goal is not only to establish a venue for neutral and civil political discourse but also to shake off the apathy of some residents surrounding local and state elections.

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