Overall, I’d say that tonight’s debate was a success. We had approximately 60 people attend, and they all seemed open-minded about hearing the candidates. There were no disruptions or name-calling or any other distractions. And as the first public forum where all of the candidates were gathered, it provided us with some insight into not just where the candidates stand on the issues, but also how they reacted to and interacted with each other.
There were two sets of results: the first from the debate students, who used formal debate criteria; and the second from the rest of the audience, who used whatever criteria they normally use when selecting political candidates. Here is how it stacked up:
The debate students ranked Ed McKnight first, followed by Stuart Lewin and Elna Hensley.
The audience ranked Mary Jolley first, followed by Ed McKnight and Bill Bronson.
Video clips of the entire debate will be posted online (either here or on YouTube) within a couple of days, but for now, I’ve put together a few pages with brief videos of each candidate’s closing statements, and here are some photos of the evening.
The questions, naturally, centered on some hot topics, such as the Highwood Generating Station (coal plant), the animal shelter, transparency and confidentiality, the role of City Commissioners, the Mayor, and City Manager, and a few other topics. More details about how the candidates responded to the questions will be discussed a bit later, both here and on other local blogs.
One of the best parts of the event was having each candidate ask another candidate a question, and observing who each candidate chose to question, what was asked, and how the other candidate replied.
And now for some gratitude: the CMR and GFH debate students who helped with organization and timekeeping – thanks, gang! And big thanks to Channing Hartelius, the moderator who kept things flowing and injected some levity; all of the candidates, for participating – we very much appreciate your support of this unique event; the audience, which was well-behaved and civil; the local media folks (KGPR, KRTV, KFBB); and to GeeGuy, for putting the entire event together.
Next up: a “town hall” forum hosted by Rick Valois and Susan Overfield at UGF on Saturday. At least five of the candidates plan to attend. I suspect that this event will be a bit more lively than tonight’s.