By Don Freeman
First of all I would like to thank Dr. Frank and Kasey for their efforts in organizing this debate. I personally respect both men, whose honesty and integrity are above reproach. Unfortunately, I don’t think they realized the level of distrust in these debates which has built up over the years.
Candidates were sent two letters from the chamber, asking the candidates to submit questions for the debate. It was implied in these letters that these questions would be the basis for the questions asked at the debate. This would give candidates time to prepare, which was reassuring. The sense was that this debate would be different, it would be fair. Then, at the 11th hour, the committee called the candidates into a back area and informed them that the rules of the debate had been changed and that the questions we had prepared for were being tossed out. There was no explanation other than this is what the committee had decided. It was ‘business as usual’ and the candidates felt betrayed.
There must be some way to build trust in this process. Our city needs this. But it’s just not there yet.
Looking out at the audience from the stage and being familiar with most of the 75 plus people in the attendance, one could clearly see the division in our city. The Duncanville United bunch were all nestled together while just interested people were scattered around.
The real shame of this debate was the lack of public notification, as well as the way the questions were structured and timed. The candidates did not have an opportunity to bring out and explore the real issues facing our city, or ways a candidate might propose to change or make a difference, if elected. I believe the questions were designed to stop any kind of mudslinging which is bad for our city image. However, not addressing the real issues in the public forum is even worse.
One example is the law suit against former mayor Hodge which was brought by the council on the advice of the city attorney. The thing is, Hodge won that case, but the council is taking it into executive council session and you as the voting public will probably never see or hear about it again.
Duncanville needs a better debate format, one that gets the public involved in the process, and answers the questions that they want answers for. After all, in the end, it is all about the citizens.