26 September 2012: A challenge to Republican candidates

A challenge to Republican candidates

Traditionally—since George Washington ran in our only non-partisan presidential race—elections have been combative.  That’s not necessarily bad; a vibrant democracy requires free exchange and open debate for informed citizens to make sound choices.

Victors are determined in a winner-take-all contest.  No silver medals are bestowed.

I am pleased to see my colleague Robert noting that all four commissioner candidates participated in the recent Sportsman Club event.  Such events are helpful for citizens to meet and learn about candidates personally and their positions and philosophies.  It’s incumbent upon, even obligatory for, candidates to participate in them as much as is reasonably possible.

In our small community, some of us wear various hats serving in differing roles.  Robert, for example, not only sits—thus helped organize their event—on the Sportsman’s board, he’s also a Courant columnist and vice-chair of the local Republican Party.

I, likewise, am columnist, serve as my party’s chair, and sit on the board of KYGT.  In my role there, I’ve hosted a talk show for eight years, dedicated primarily to social/political issues.

It was in that capacity I planned a series of shows in September and October on which opposing candidates for local and state offices would appear solely with their opponent and address substantive issues.  The format would be, as I reminded them in my invitations, “conversational, but would, of course, entail you responding to specific questions on issues germane to Clear Creek.  No surprises!

“It would give each of you an opportunity to respond to the other’s statements in order to show differences/separation between you and to rebut, if necessary, points that might not be accurate.”

During the summer, I verbally shared that vision with the commissioner and district attorney candidates, and I recall all agreeing directly or at least implicitly to the idea.

Since then, all have accepted except the two Republican commissioner candidates.  Both declined due to their schedules being chockfull through Election Day apparently with nary an hour to spare.

To say I was surprised is an understatement given my show is one of two current venues—Mark Kline’s is the other—on which candidates have opportunity to speak to the universe of Clear Creek voters while sitting at the table for an extended conversation with their opponent.

Some might justify their decision based on I being their opposing party’s chair, but that didn’t stop Randy Wheelock and George Clark from participating in the event organized by the GOP vice-chair.  After all, candidates are ill-advised to spend their time preaching to their choirs.

In that spirit, Adam Ochs, Republican for state legislature, has agreed to appear with Rep. Claire Levy (D) on October 13, and Scott Turner, Republican for district attorney, with Bruce Brown (D) on October 27.   Even though their universes of potential voters extend far beyond Clear Creek, both managed not only to find time to travel from afar to share their thinking with Clear Creek voters, but also seem excited to have the opportunity.  And why not?

It makes one wonder among other implications about who’s advising the two Republican candidates.

I recall how in 2008 then-Republican chair Steve Schultz and then-Democratic co-chair Commissioner Tim Mauck participated in a proxy debate for senate candidates Bob Schaffer (R) and Mark Udall (D) on my show.  Steve was anxious, but I assured him there would be “no surprises” and I would merely serve as facilitator.

As the show wrapped up, Steve complimented me on air about being fair.

I recall as well our Clear Creek version of a “beer summit” earlier this year when Robert and I put aside our differences over the air.  Since then, we’ve worked in an air of collegiality, rarely agreeing but always enjoying the exchange and respecting the other.

What we do, though, in other capacities outside our party roles is about contributing to the larger community, not about us.

Program update: Randy appeared on September 15, and his thoughts can be heard on the radio’s website www.kygt.org.  George will be with me this coming Saturday, September 29.

Also, I encourage you to attend the forum on October 4 from 7:00 to 9:00 at the United Center hosted by the high school’s Advanced Government class and the Clear Creek Economic Development Corp.  Due to a family need, I will not likely be able to attend.

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