Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Speaking of debates, Herald forums prove merit

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

Read more here:

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 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

Florida House District 71 (Manatee, Sarasota)
R-Jim Boyd, 
 D-Adam Tebrugge  

Florida House District 73  (Manatee, Sarasota)
NPA- Bob McCann  
R-Greg Steube  

State Attorney, District 12
R- Ed Brodsky  
D- John Torraco  

Manatee County School Board (Nonpartisan race)
District 2  Runoff
Dave “Watchdog” Miner,
Robert Moates 

Manatee County Commission
District 1:
R-  Larry Bustle
D- Corie Holmes

District 5:
R- Vanessa Baugh
D- James Golden

City of Bradenton ( nonpartisan)
Wayne Poston
Marianne Barneby
Richard O’Brien

City Council, Ward 2
Gene Brown
George Mendez
Binnie Williams

Supervisor of Elections
R- Michael Bennett
D- Charles Williams Jr.
WRI-Rodney Smokey Smithley

Florida Senate District 26  (Manatee and others east)
R-Bill Galvano 
D- Paula House
And coming Thursday:
U. S. Representative District 16 (formerly 13)
R-Vern Buchanan
D-Keith Fitzgerald

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