Candidates to meet informally

Until two years ago, Linda Lewis wasn't interested in politics. She always voted, but her involvement stopped there.

"I always felt like I could do more by living a good life," she said. "Now, I'm thinking I need to do bigger things. Since Sept. 11 and the war with Iraq, I realized I need to start paying attention.

"I think there are a lot of people like me -- people who don't know enough."

Lewis wants to see people like her at an informal Candidate Coffee House at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Lewis, Sandra Sherrod and Summer Laws, founders of the Steamboat Springs Peace and Justice Center, organized the event "especially for people who haven't voted before or who don't feel comfortable at a traditional (political) debate," Lewis said.

The Steamboat Springs Peace and Justice Center opened to the public with a meeting at Epilogue Book Co. on Sept. 16. The group's goal is to educate and organize the community on political issues such as a livable wage, peace and international affairs.

The group chose to hold the Candidate Coffee House at The Depot Art Center because of the building's informal and comfortable atmosphere.

"It has a good feel," Lewis said. "A lot of people have had a good time there."

City Council candidates and current members have been invited to attend.

As people walk through the door, they will be given a list of detailed information about Steamboat's political issues.

"We hope this information will empower people to ask questions," Lewis said. Each candidate will be given five minutes to speak. Then the crowd will be given coffee, snacks and the chance to socialize with candidates and ask questions.

Getting people involved in the democratic process is a goal of the Peace and Justice Center.

"There are a few of us who are not real happy with what's going on in this country right now," Lewis said. "But 50 percent of the people didn't even vote during the last election. They are not being represented."

Lewis suspects that many of the nonvoters were younger people, and her efforts are meant for their benefit.

"We want to get the younger folks who may feel like it doesn't matter if they vote," she said.

After the Candidates Coffee House, the women of the Peace and Justice Center plan to set up a voter registration table at Lewis' Oak Street office, Healing Hands Health Center.

"We also want to put voter registration where younger people are likely to be," Lewis said. "We want to make it really easy."

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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