Carroll residents will get two chances to hear from Maryland gubernatorial candidates Wednesday without traveling outside the county.
The Winters Mill Young Conservatives Club is hosting a bipartisan Gubernatorial Forum 6 p.m. Wednesday in the school's auditorium. Earlier that night, McDaniel College's political science department is hosting Republican candidate Larry Hogan at 4:30 p.m. as part of a gubernatorial "What I've Learned" lecture series.
Candidates attending the Winters Mill event are Republican David Craig, Democrat Cindy Walsh and Ken Timmerman, Boyd Rutherford and Shelley Aloi, the respective running mates of Republican candidates Charles Lollar, Larry Hogan and Ron George.
Both events are free and open to the public.
Senior Jake Barnette, president of the Winters Mill Young Conservatives Club, said it took several letters and phone calls starting back in September to assemble the five candidates to speak at the forum.
"We decided, 'Let's see if we can pull this off,'" he said.
Barnette is very interested in politics because the subject is energetic, enticing and always lively, he said. He's been active in local politics for two years, including interning for Del. Justin Ready, R-District 5A.
"I enjoy it because you make a difference," he said.
Westminster attorney Michael Earp, the event's moderator, will ask the candidates questions about taxes, education, state spending, public safety and health care. The forum is not meant to be a debate, but instead a question-and-answer session, Barnette said.
The candidates will also have a chance to introduce themselves at the start of the forum and an opportunity at the end to share their campaign message, he said.
The forum is the club's big event this year, which is the first full year the club has existed, and is the last hurrah for the senior members, Barnette said. The club members will have the chance to mingle with the candidates at a small reception before the forum.
"We have this opportunity to have the next governor or lieutenant governor in our school," he said. "It gives them a chance to talk to all these different people."
Many people don't realize that the June 24 primary election is just around the corner. It's especially important that students, who will be the next voting generation, come out to hear the candidates' stances, Barnette said.
"It's just trying to get Carroll County involved in politics first-hand," he said.
McDaniel's Herb Smith, a political science professor, said all gubernatorial candidates were invited to the school. Craig and Democrat Doug Gansler have already visited.
The lecture series has a bipartisan educational mission to provide insight into the characters, personalities and records of the candidates, Smith said.
"They talk about what they've learned," he said.
Smith said people often only have the chance to listen to candidates second-hand.
"This is a great opportunity to actually meet them personally and hear what they have to say," he said.
Barnette is honored the candidates are taking the time to visit Carroll County Wednesday and hopes the forum will help create a more informed electorate.
"These people will potentially be sitting in the State House," he said. "Choose wisely."