MOV residents create virtual public forum during pandemic

Published: May. 29, 2020 at 5:51 PM EDT
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Jennifer Bryant and Kim Van-Rijn are two informed voters that want to help get information about candidates out into the public.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, in-person forums and town halls have been canceled, or not scheduled because of the worry of the virus spreading.

To help continue to get information out, Jenn and Kim started "The Mid-Ohio Valley Public Forum Video Podcast," in which they interview candidates from city council, to governor.

"The two of us just kind of started talking about how difficult it must be to be a candidate right now," said Jennifer Bryant. "We started exploring some options, trying to figure out how we can help, and this is what we came up with, and it’s been pretty successful."

Some challenges they have faced in the one month they have been conducting interviews is that they have to be nonpartisan. As informed voters, they have to make sure they are doing their part to make sure undecided voters make their own decisions.

"We wanted to get the information and the views of the candidates out there," said Kim Van-Rijn. "We did not want to alienate one side or the other by the way we asked the questions. So we just were really careful about how we did it, and we gave every candidate for the same office the exact same set of questions."

Even though Jenn and Kim are familiar with most issues being discussed, they still had to do their research about each candidate, and what their job entails. Jenn came out of her researching learning more than she previously knew.

"That was a real learning experience for the both of us, I think," Bryant said. "The scope of the job, and the qualifications necessary, it was kind of like going back to school and taking civics class again because we had to learn all those things to be able to prepare good questions."

Jenn and Kim want the candidates to appear personable, making them more electable and showing the voters a personal side to them. They learned many interesting personal facts about the candidates, which they believe is making the forum successful.

"It was interesting to find out things like that," said Van-Rijn. "And get to know the candidates more than you would have in a public forum and their replies to answers on a questionnaire."

Due to the uncertainty of when the pandemic will end, both Bryant and Van-Rijn plan on continuing the virtual forum through the general election.