The Moscow Chamber of Commerce on Monday apologized for not contacting all of the Moscow Mayor and City Council election candidates about a chamber-hosted candidate forum held during a luncheon Wednesday.
The candidate forum, held at the Best Western Plus University Inn, featured six of the 12 candidates in this November’s election. The Daily News reported that the Chamber of Commerce reached out to all of the candidates based on an email from a chamber staff member sent to the newspaper.
On Monday, the chamber sent out a news release stating that some candidates were, in fact, not contacted.
“It recently came to our attention that two mayoral candidates and four council-member candidates were inadvertently not contacted,” the chamber stated. “We regret this isolated and unintentional misstep.”
Mayoral candidates Art Bettge and Olivia Moses were present at the forum, while candidates Jim Gray and Barb Rathbun did not participate. City Council candidates Gina Taruscio, Julia Parker, Kyrk Tylor and Hailey Lewis participated, while council candidates Steve Harmon, Jason Stooks, Shaun Dareshi and Melissa Cline did not.
The news release said the chamber contacted the candidates who included their emails in the candidate filing document that can be found on the Latah County website. Gray, Rathbun, Stooks, Dareshi and Cline did not provide their email address.
Chamber Executive Director Samantha Martinet said she directed her staff to contact candidates via email for last week’s forum for expediency since the luncheon was already scheduled.
Moses did not provide her email address when filing, but her campaign team informed the Daily News that it approached the Chamber of Commerce in person approximately a week before the event to get more information on the luncheon and provide contact information.
“We then returned to the Chamber of Commerce office the day before the luncheon to check in and confirm the time and location of the event,” the Moses campaign team wrote in an email.“And, even after that, they seemed surprised at our attendance.”
The Moscow Chamber of Commerce is planning to host another forum with the hope all candidates will have the opportunity to attend.
“The Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is also reviewing and improving internal processes to ensure that all means of contact are utilized in the future and that every effort is made accordingly,” the news release stated.
Martinet added “sending invitations via mail is one of the internal processes we are looking to update and any omission of candidates due to a reliance on email only was unintentional.”
Harmon said Monday he is planning on attending the next forum and said he is thankful the chamber apologized.
“I think a public apology is due,” he said.
Harmon confronted the chamber staff and posted a video of the conversation Saturday on his campaign Facebook page. In the video, he said he and several other candidates were not contacted about the forum.
“There’s something dubious and problematic happening here,” Harmon said in the video.
Harmon on Monday said the information in the newspaper article was misleading and made it seem as if the omitted candidates chose not to attend the forum. He said the other candidates should be entitled to the same press coverage.
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