District 5 Debate RecapPosted: March 22, 2010
(Disclaimer: The views expressed within are not meant to be an endorsement for either candidate, but merely my own reactions to the proceedings. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused)
1101 Humanities is a sweltering pit in the corner of that fugly building but fortunately, a good number of students managed to find it and instead of running away in horror, stay and enjoy the discussion between Analiese Eicher and Michael Johnson.
Additionally, local media swarmed this place; bloggers that I noticed included Beyond the Talking Points, ASM Voice, The Sconz, and Forward Thinking in Madison (those are the ones I noticed, sure there are more I missed!) Both the campus papers were there, WSUM recorded it, and there were enough cameras to capture every vivid detail. Hopefully, this will result in some good attention on this election and get students involved.
Two of these reputable sites live-blogged this event; the ASM Press Office, and Beyond the Talking Points authored by Kurt Gosselin so check those out for a play-by-play re-enactment of what went down at this event. Kurt even supplied a bit of commentary on how he saw the responses.
Basically, the conversation focused around environmental policies and priorities and affordable housing.
I feel that Michael Johnson answered the questions more directly and with more reasoning backing up his points, albeit he focused quite a bit on just two or three issues and did not move much beyond those. He was also much more knowledgeable about previous work on the county board (and he had specific ideas for funding his proposals including the support of a tax to fund the Regional Transit Authority).
Analiese talked more about general policies (protecting the waterways, etc.) and had a tough time moving beyond, “Let’s get federal grants!” as a form of funding her projects which were not very fleshed out. While I admire her stance of letting the voters determine whether a tax is appropriate for the RTA funding, it is also a sidestep of the question. I was asking for her thoughts on it, not whether she would support what the voters decide, that much is clear. However, Analiese touched on MANY more hot button issues, before I even prompted her such as the RTA. So mad props for talking about the entire gamut of issues.
Overall, I feel it went well. The questions could have, and probably should have, been a little tougher, but I wanted this to be reletively pleasant for everyone involved and more of an opportunity to showcase their positions to the students.
I know the question burning in the minds of at least half the audience was the response of Michael to his anti-semitic comments. Even though I was passed a note requesting this question be asked, I felt that Michael had defended that position in recent days, particularly with an editorial from the Daily Cardinal in which he speaks on this. Without an equally tough question to ask Analiese, I did not want to end with an attack on Michael. Some may disagree with my tact and position on this but I hope people can take from this the important notes: what these candidates plan on doing for Dane County in the future.
Post your thoughts in the comments section!