Being in front of a camera has never ranked among my favorite moments. So you can imagine my angst when Herald Editorial Editor Chris Wille began scheduling televised candidate forums for contested races in Manatee County. And there are plenty!
|Candidates for Florida Senate-District 26, incumbent Bill Galvano and
Paula House, participate in a candidate forum hosted by the Bradenton
Herald at Manatee Educational Television. GRANT
JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald GJEFFERIES@BRADENTON.COM |
But now, three weeks into the debates, I realize how valuable this commitment by the Herald, Manatee Educational TV and Bay News 9 is proving. For each race, we brought the candidates together at METV for no more than an hour. They each presented their opening statements, then took questions from our panel: Wille, myself and a BN9 reporter. The videos are shown on Bradenton.com and METV continually. We also had a staff reporter and photographer cover each forum for campaign stories and galleries.
Without exception, the candidates opened up to allow voters a chance to hear what's at stake. In at least two races, it was the first time the candidates had faced off together. And we heard from candidates and viewers alike: This public access is a true civic service, and worth all the hours (and jitters!).
For those races that didn't find a televised slot, we brought the candidates to the Herald. One of the most interesting proved to be the Holmes Beach races for commission and mayor. We made sure to keep the forums open to the public -- and at least 30 residents attended the Holmes Beach sessions in the middle of the day. They submitted questions, listened intently, and then stayed around afterward for more discussion. The Herald literally became the debate hub. And the discussions led to today's editorial, in which the Editorial Board recommended a complete overhaul in both races.
You'll find video from each of the following forums at videos.bradenton.com
Florida House District 71 (Manatee, Sarasota)
Florida House District 73 (Manatee, Sarasota)
NPA- Bob McCann
State Attorney, District 12
R- Ed Brodsky
D- John Torraco
Manatee County School Board (Nonpartisan race)
District 2 Runoff
Dave “Watchdog” Miner,
Manatee County Commission
R- Larry Bustle
D- Corie Holmes
R- Vanessa Baugh
D- James Golden
City of Bradenton ( nonpartisan)
City Council, Ward 2
Supervisor of Elections
R- Michael Bennett
D- Charles Williams Jr.
WRI-Rodney Smokey Smithley
Florida Senate District 26 (Manatee and others east)
D- Paula House
And coming Thursday:
U. S. Representative District 16 (formerly 13)