Maria Ambalada, a member of the Lynnwood Planning Commission and a candidate for Lynnwood City Council Position 3, said she is disappointed that she wasn’t allowed to participate in a forum for Lynnwood City Council and Mayoral candidates earlier this week.
Organizers of the forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Edmonds Community College, said they did not include Ambalada because she did not respond to three invitations sent to the email address she used as the preferred method of contact when she filed for office.
Each candidate received an emailed invitation on June 18 and a second on June 25, said Edmonds Community College spokeswoman Marisa Pierce. “A third email was sent on July 3 stating that the organizers had not received acknowledgement or acceptance of the invitation and offering the candidates a chance to submit a statement to be read at the forum.”
Ambalada and another council candidate did not respond, nor did they submit a statement, Pierce said, adding that “the emails to each of the unresponsive candidates did not ‘bounce back’ and were checked for accuracy.”
As a result, neither Ambalada nor candidate Michael Moore participated in the forum.
Ambalada said that the only information she received about the forum was the article she read about it on Lynnwood Today, which included her name among the list of candidates. “I was waiting for an invitation from League of Women Voters, their practice whenever they sponsor a forum,” she said. Ambalada said that when she contacted Pierce on the day of the forum about being included, she was told she couldn’t participate, because she hadn’t responded to the emails.
Ambalada questioned why organizers didn’t use other methods of contact, such as a phone call, when they didn’t receive a response via email.
“The organizers feel that if a candidate provides a method of contact, such as an email address, to the Snohomish County Auditor’s office when he or she files for office, then it’s reasonable to expect that he or she will be responsive to communications sent via that method,” Pierce explained.
She said that including Ambalada in the program at the last minute “would not have been easy as just adding another chair to the table at the forum. The entire forum program was planned minute by minute with candidates each having two minutes to open and two minutes to close and a specified amount of time in between for general discussion with formulated questions that came from the community prior to the event.”
When Ambalada contacted Edmonds Community College organizers on the day of the forum, they “offered her the opportunity to be introduced at the event and to display campaign materials, which she accepted,” Pierce said.
But Ambalada said that having to sit in the audience and not being able to participate on the panel hurt her campaign.”The great opportunity was stolen from me,” she said. “This is hard to take.”
Publisher’s note: You can watch Maria Ambalada’s 30-minute interview with Lynnwood Today here. Interviews with other city council and mayoral candidates is available via the Lynnwood Election Watch 2013 tab.