CARLSBAD — As Election Day draws closer, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce is lending a hand to voters.
The county’s second-largest chamber is hosting a pair of public workshops on Aug. 16 and Aug. 23 to “educate, inform and equip” residents with the tools to understand the election process.
The first of the nonpartisan workshops will focus on the election basics, such as the candidates, races and common issues. The second will focus on post-election engagement. Both workshops will be at the chamber, 5934 Priestly Drive, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and the cost is $40.
“We realized, because of our role … folks have issues and they don’t always understand the who, what, when, where or how these things come about,” said Toni Padron, the chamber’s COO. “We wanted to be able to give people an opportunity to learn about some of the main issues (from water to traffic) … so they have more insight in to how they come about. Your voice really does matter. Your vote really does matter. This has to do with being informed.”
The chamber has also lined up several guest speakers including Michael Vu of the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, and from the city of Carlsbad Jason Haber, assistant to the city manager; Barbara Engleson, city clerk; and Marie-Jones Kirk, community services manager. Other speakers such as John Hoy, Tom Shepard and Rachel Laing will speak about the roles of campaigns, how to correspond with elected officials and strategic communications.
Padron said she learned a lot about placement from Vu’s discussion, as well as about how candidates are listed in the voters’ guide. “He talks about the ballot, the mail-in and going to the polls,” she said. “He will also talk about being a poll worker.”
The Aug. 16 session centers on the races and the candidates running for those seats. Carlsbad voters have numerous races to decide including mayor and City Council, state assembly and senate, Board of Supervisors District 5, U.S. senate and the 49th Congressional seat, plus other statewide races such as governor.
Padron said the chamber will not focus on ballot questions, such as the Carlsbad Unified School District’s $265 million school bond question, as they did not have time to prepare for those.
Attendees will be schooled on how to identify candidates’ preparedness for office, she said. Avenues to seek out accurate information from credible sources, rather than social media threads or viewpoints stretching a candidate’s qualifications, will be highlighted.
“This is a huge year and we are electing a lot of new people,” Padron said. “There are a lot of people out there who think they can be in office, and you need to decide if they are really ready to represent you and the community. We also want them to understand things have changed. We have district elections … and how do we make it a positive for our community.”
The second workshop on Aug. 23, meanwhile, will focus on making a difference in the community after the election. One goal is to keep the electorate engaged with elected officials and getting people involved with campaign or volunteer opportunities in the city.
In addition, the Aug. 23 workshop will discuss methods to stay involved with elected officials and how to hold those individuals accountable while in office.
“There’s so many things you can do that have so many other benefits,” Padron added. “If you want information, you have to have conversation. Folks need to be talking and discussing in a manner that’s respectful. It’s OK to express your opinion as long as you can hear another opinion.”
The registration goal for the workshops is 25 people, Padron said. This is a test series for the chamber, and if successful, she said the organization plans to continue the series in the coming months.