Thursday, September 27

Debate Format is Brilliant

Want a chance to make up your own mind in our upcoming election for Mayor and City Commission?

David over at and GeeGuy at the Electric City Weblog have put their money in place of their mouths (or in this case, keyboards) to sponsor a candidates debate on October 17, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. at the Northwest Center (lcoated at 2201 Northwest Bypass).

David and Gregg have taken some flak from a few locals over their choice of debate format here. The controversy? Instead of opening the doors, they are charging $15 admission. $5 of the admission price goes to rental of the hall (with any overage donated to the CMR Debate Team, which will facilitate the event) and $10 goes into a pot, which will be distributed to the debate winner, chosen via polling the audience after the debate.

I am impressed with this methodology. I think it is unique, and quite frankly, a breath of fresh air from the standard town hall or talking head format debates that offer no clear winner except for a room full of spin doctors. Charging admission should also serve as a disincentive for campaigns to pack the hall with their supporters; there is more chance of a real independent audience.

Now, I recognize that this might not entirely be the case. A savvy campaign could bankroll a plethora of supporters to stack the ending poll in their favor. However, unless the debate is very well attended, it would be very expensive for a campaign to do so, as they only stand to gain 2/3 of their investment plus the 2/3 of the other attendees.

Further, such an effort might well reflect well on the candidate that does the stacking. If nothing else, pulling off such a feat will prove that the candidate possesses organizational skills that should prove useful if that individual is seated as our mayor or commissioner.

Several commenters have also decried that such a format makes the debate nothing but a popularity contest. Now, I suggest that this complaint rings hollow. What is an election but a popularity contest? When we all vote for someone to hold office, the most 'popular' wins due to the rules of the game.

Again, kudos to David and GeeGuy. I am looking forward to attending. I will also be sending you several questions.


Anonymous said...

There's an interesting Internet article written by Dr. Thomas A. Droleskey: "Ron Paul, Meet Saint Paul." There is chaos in politics in America, including Great Falls, and Dr. Droleskey's article explains how problems can be resolved with Christ the King's help. Let the debate begin! Shalom

GeeGuy said...

One clarification, TSJ. The Commissioner of Political Practices will not allow us to distribute the pot to the winner, i.e. no winner take all. Each vote a person gets is worth $10.00 to that person's campaign, whether they get one vote or all the votes.

The winner take all approach was our original plan, and I still think it's legal, but...well, it's a long story.