Respect for democracy?

By From page A5 | June 16, 2014


The letter you printed from Mark E. Smith on Friday, May 23 (“No respect for democracy”) was the one you posted online three weeks ago. I and others responded to it there. Here is a synopsis of my earlier explanations and response to Mr. Smith’s complaint about the supervisor candidate forum in Coloma last month.

The format was given to the eight candidates almost a month in advance. None of them complained about the end results. The forum drew the largest crowd yet in District 4. I designed and implemented the format and moderated the event. I was solely responsible for the selection and direction of the audience’s questions. Of about 40 submitted, I selected 20 to use in the time available. Each candidate also had time for on introductory speech, and concluding remarks. At my direction. Mr. Garon pre-screened questions for duplicates, clarity, consolidation, focus and brevity. If too many questions were directed to one candidate, for example, he marked up the card — I could see all of his edits — and I would distribute the questions so as to ensure that every candidate handled the exact same number of questions. That was my imperative — equal mike time. This was accomplished.

It was never intended to be a debate. The candidates also answered people’s questions directly one-on-one both before and after the forum. I am pretty sure that more public questions were put to the candidates at this event than at any of the other forums in which they participated.

Mr. Smith roasted Mr. Garon in the Democrat last year. Then, seeing his nemesis Garon involved in processing questions for me, he interrupted the forum, shouted objections and stomped out. His complaints about the event are thus from one who didn’t stay to fully evaluate it. The irony is that Mr. Smith’s anonymous question of candidate Howard Penn was eventually asked and answered by Penn but Smith had left the building. Someone who watched it has observed that no other of the 175 guests left with him, and that the “applause” was for candidate Tim Palmer, who, speaking when rudely interrupted by Smith, made a quip to lighten the mood.

My moderator skills may need work. But my choice of an assistant was solid. Mr. Garon was a big help in an SRO environment. It is too bad the Mountain Democrat did not cover the event and report on it rather than posting Mr. Smith’s complaints, again. However well democracy was practiced in that room, it is not well served by bowing before the angriest, loudest partisan voice.


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