Letter: Debate setting is best way for candidates to be heardI would like to clarify a couple of points that Rep. Rod Hamilton made in his recent letter about debates and forums.
By: Cheryl Avenel-Navara, District 22B candidate, Worthington, Worthington Daily Globe
I would like to clarify a couple of points that Rep. Rod Hamilton made in his recent letter about debates and forums.
The first is that the debate scheduled for Oct. 25 on Pioneer Public Television (if Mr. Hamilton agrees to participate) will be a one-hour opportunity for everyone in District 22B to watch and in which they may participate. The two candidates will stand at a podium, have three minutes to introduce him or herself, and then respond to a series of questions sent in by viewers via phone or email. The response is limited to two minutes each, with one minute for rebuttal by each candidate. After all questions have been asked or the time limit is reached, each candidate has two minutes to give a closing statement.
I agreed to participate in this debate, even though I have no debate experience, immediately upon receiving the request (in August) from Pioneer Public Television. I even told constituents about the debate while door-knocking when they asked me if there would be an opportunity to hear both of us address issues.
The second point I would like to clarify is that the activities Mr. Hamilton has referred to as debates have been candidate forums. It is important to note that there are major differences between a forum and a debate. The most important of these differences is that while a forum allows candidates to share their views, debates also allow candidates to respond to their opponent’s views. Debates are much more informative and useful for voters.
There has also been a difference in the format of each of the forums I have attended thus far.
The forum on Sept. 5, which was hosted by the Soil and Water Conservation District, was limited to its professional or board members and held in Redwood Falls. It allowed each of the 14 candidates seven minutes to introduce him or herself and then answer a specific question. Each candidate had a different question related to Soil and Water Conservation practices, and there was no opportunity to comment on the answers to the other 13 questions asked.
On Sept. 20, the forum was hosted by Clean Energy and Jobs and was an information-only forum. The experts presented us with information on clean energy policy, a public survey and clean energy jobs with an optional tour of the wind energy farm. The candidates present did not respond to questions, and this forum was not attended by the public.
The Sept. 28 education forum was hosted by the SW/WC consortium, held in Worthington and attended only by school superintendents, principals and some school board members. Each candidate was asked the same question, but there was no opportunity to address what someone else said.
On Sept. 13, the League of Minnesota Cities hosted a forum in Windom that was attended only by their members who were at a training session during the day. Mr. Hamilton did not attend this forum. Each candidate who was present was allowed to answer all questions posed by the audience.
The forum on Oct. 18 at Mapleview Estates in Fulda will be on senior care services and will be attended by the administrators, some staff, residents and their families, and possibly others since it is open to the public.
The forum on Oct. 24 in Worthington is in the evening. Many people in the area have told me that driving to Worthington from other places at night is not possible for them, so attendance will be limited. From my experience of attending past forums as a voter, each candidate will have the opportunity to answer each question, and there may be an opportunity for rebuttal. The forum may be televised by Cable 3.
I believe that the best way for voters to be informed about the candidates is to meet or at least hear them in a public setting like that provided by Pioneer Public Television on Oct. 25. In this way the citizens of Lamberton, Revere and Walnut Grove in the north, Ellsworth, Bigelow and Round Lake in the south, and Mountain Lake in the east and Lismore in the west and all those in between have the opportunity to see and hear the same message.
The question to Rep. Hamilton is still, “Will you participate in the debate on Oct. 25 via Pioneer Public Television so all area residents have the opportunity to hear us both?”