The stage is set for two important political forums designed for the sole purpose of making you, the voting public, more informed as you head into the ballot box this Nov. 6.
Today, this very afternoon, Joseph Solomon and Sue Stenhouse will face off in their first and (likely) only mayoral debate to occur prior to the election. On Tuesday, Oct. 23, school committee candidates will gather together at Pilgrim High School for a comprehensive discussion about issues facing the school department. The school forum starts at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited. The mayoral debate is in studio and will be broadcast. Times and dates will be online.
It is our mission at the Beacon, and at all the publications under the Beacon Communications umbrella, to inform you to the best of our ability in a way that is fair, objective and provides necessary context into issues that are often much more complex than can be broken down in an hour or hour-and-a-half debate format.
However, we believe that these types of forums are crucially important in a different way than written coverage, as they present the public with a real glimpse into how candidates for public office conduct themselves when faced with tough questions, or are challenged by their political opponents. They shine a light on how tightly candidates grasp the history and nuance into various topics, as well as provide an opportunity for them to share their opinions on topics concerning the city they seek to represent.
Debates and forums are one of the rare times when we can receive organic, legitimate insight from those in public office in real time, as we much more often receive polished, well thought out public relations material from those who sit in elected positions. That is not to blame politicians for being deliberate and thoughtful in their responses, however there is value in being forced to answer something on the spot.
We would be remiss if we didn’t thank the people who have helped us pull these forums together. On the mayoral side, PEG RI-TV has been gracious and flexible providing us a space to meet and doing all of the work at no cost, as they did during the Democratic primary as well. They demonstrate the true importance of public access in helping keep local communities informed, and we are grateful for their truly wonderful efforts.
For the school committee forum, the Warwick School Department has been invaluable in their willingness to work with us on short notice and organize an event that should be beneficial to the public at large, while also turning it into an opportunity for a large number of students to gain valuable experience into political science and digital production fields.
The collaboration has already been rewarding in working with young men and women from the local high schools to come up with issues that are pertinent to students, and involving them in the process of being able to ask some questions to the people that, one day soon, will be representing their interests on the school committee.
We have to give a special token of appreciation to Christopher Pratt and Andrea Place, both talented educators at Pilgrim High School who make up the audio and visual components of the Studio 107 team that will be working with students to shoot the school committee forum, edit it and transform it into a quality production that can be broadcast on public access for everyone to be able to see.
The work that students will be doing is not work that would traditionally be done in the first couple months of school – it is also far beyond the degree of work that high school students would get the opportunity to tackle in most communities, full stop – so we appreciate their willingness to take on that challenge more than words can express. It is an exciting prospect to have so many students involved in the production and execution of a program that is, at its very core, about creating the best opportunity for students to succeed.
Finally, we would like to thank the candidates for agreeing to take part in these forums, as they truly are for the good of our democracy to do so.