Story Featured in Plano Star Courier
Across the city, residents are hosting and planning forums to get to know prospective Plano City Council members, Plano ISD trustees and Collin College trustees. Today, the Collin County Business Alliance and Plano Chamber of Commerce are hosting a forum for residents to get to know their candidates.
As May 6 draws nearer, several local organizations are doing their part to connect residents and candidates before Election Day.
“The Collin County Business Alliance organizes various events throughout the year to bring together the public and private sectors,” said Sanjiv Yajnik, CCBA board chair. “The Plano Mayoral Candidate Forum is a perfect opportunity to work alongside the Plano Chamber of Commerce and Plano Rotary to encourage and engage [the community].”
Donna Bening of the Plano Chapter of the AARP said there will be a mayoral and council forum Friday at the Plano Senior Center. She said the local AARP chapter wanted to host its own events in the daytime so residents with alternative schedules can attend a morning forum instead of an evening one.
She said questions vary depending on what organization hosts the forum; however, most of the questions at Friday’s meeting should address diversity in housing options for older residents, mobility and public transportation, rehabilitating the Plano Senior Center and more specific issues.
The League of Women Voters hosted a candidate forum in Plano over the weekend to a crowd of over 100 residents. They also collaborate with other organizations in the county to help connect residents and prospective candidates. There are nine LWV-adjacent candidate forums planned between now and April 24, and as a nonpartisan organization, president Janice Sheiffer said, the LWV hosts forums to “reach as many people as possible,” she said. “We know that not everyone is going to come to a single forum, so that’s why we’re involved in multiple forums.”
At Saturday’s meeting, candidates answered questions from the audience, most of which revolved around similar topics, the Plano Tomorrow Plan, city development, traffic and the upcoming bond referendum.
At the PISD and Collin College forum, several residents asked about alternative options to post-graduate life, special interests and the upcoming bond referendum for Collin College.
The LWV is also working with the Aga Khan Council for Central United States to host a candidate forum on April 22. They will host a discussion later this month at the Ismaili Jamatkhana, Aga Khan Council’s Plano center, 6704 Alma Drive.
Samina Hooda, community coordinator for the regional Aga Khan Council, said the organization often hosts events to encourage civic involvement.
“Wherever our community is, we contribute to the larger society,” she said. “Civic engagement is one of the major goals of us to provide opportunities in our community to really serve the larger community.
“The purpose is to use not only the community volunteers, but also our space as a cross center to utilize for the community. We thought that a mayoral forum would really provide opportunities for the community to come together under one roof and have dialogue with all the candidates.”
The meeting at Ismaili Jamatkhana will feature Sam Baker, KERA’s senior editor and host of Morning Edition, as well as Janet Imhoff of the LWV of Collin County. But more than anything, Hooda said, Aga Khan wants to open its space for all residents.
“These spaces, not only are we using them for civic engagement, but also educational activities, community service activities. We bring speakers from other cultures. All sorts of avenues that we can bring people together and learn about each other is our big purpose,” she said.