Black and Brown Coalition forum goes on without GOP

R.I. County GOP leader says they're sitting out because of how it was organized

By Krista Burris |

Published 10/20 2016 06:34PM

Updated 10/20 2016 06:34PM

A second candidate forum hosted by the Black and Brown Coalition is was held Thursday. 
But, the Republican candidates haven't been there either time.
The coalition is made up of five community organizations. 
The first forum was held over the weekend, but members of the Rock Island County GOP weren't there.
"It basically removed all Republican leadership from visibility to how the forum was being organized, what the rules were, the scope of questions were, that sort of thing."
Bill Bloom is the head of the Rock Island County Republicans.
He says the main reason they're not participating in the forum is because they weren't included enough in the planning.
Juanita Zertuche is one of the forum organizers.
Zertuche says they're hosting a bipartisan forum, so voters can hear from the candidates.
"With any future elections to get together and support each other's events to educate the community of whatever election it might be," said Zertuche. 
Bloom says another issue keeping them from the forum is, which races they chose to focus on. 
He says more offices should've been included like the county circuit clerk. 
"That's a very important race in Rock Island County. There's a lot of jobs in the Circuit Clerk's department, and it's a huge piece of the Rock Island County budget," said Bloom. 
Zertuche says they narrowed it down to a few offices because the coalition was just formed at the beginning of the month.
She says they didn't want to over extend themselves. 
"We knew from the beginning that we really couldn't take on a lot because we are so new, and with resources and help," said Zertuche. 
Zertuche says they'll have the forum with, or without the Republicans.
"I think it's a missed opportunity for the Republican side if they're not there. You know, the forum will continue," said Zertuche. 
Bloom says they're open to being part of future events.
"If they do involve us in the future, I think they'll have a better forum. I think they'll have a forum that everybody enthusiastically endorses that nobody looks at with suspicion," said Bloom. 
Organizers say they plan to host more forums during future election cycles. 

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