OUR CORNER: No debate about debating issues

The great Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil famously said, “All politics is local.”

I was instructed to reject everything O’Neil said, growing up in a vigilantly partisan, conservative family – but that doesn’t mean O’Neil didn’t know his politics.

Making their case for local politics next month will be candidates from Enumclaw, Buckley and Sumner when they share their positions on relevant issues at our 2011 Courier-Herald October debates.

We’ve scheduled a debate in Buckley on Oct. 11 at the Glacier Annex Auditorium, and another in Sumner at Sumner Presbyterian Church on Oct. 13. Both debates start at 6:30 p.m. and the public is invited.

The Buckley debate will feature candidates from Enumclaw’s City Council and School Board races, plus Buckley’s City Council races.

The Sumner debate will feature candidates from Sumner School Board races and the city’s three council races. There is also a race for East Pierce County Fire Commissioner, and those candidates have been invited.

Public debates have become an ever-increasing part of our culture. The 2012 Republican presidential candidates have scheduled several for the fall and candidates have exploited them as a chance to become better known by potential voters. A CNN-Tea Party Express debate last week introduced each candidate as if they were prize fighters and even featured the singing of our national anthem; I had to make sure I hadn’t flipped to Monday Night Football by mistake.

If used effectively and appropriately, debates give the public some fair insight into the thinking and perspective of the candidates they have the privilege of selecting.

We spend a lot of time, money and effort defending the concept of “democracy.” As such, it is our duty to actually care about whom we are giving the responsibility of governing to.

I’ve worked on four political campaigns in my life and last year worked for a congressional candidate who desperately sought the opportunity to debate. It was in this effort that our campaign founded a movement I had envisioned called “Debate for Democracy.” With Debate for Democracy, we joined with the campaigns of other candidates across this great nation whose opponents decided they didn’t need to be held accountable in a public forum and attend a debate. We were eventually successful in earning that opportunity and the people decided to elect our opponent anyway. Sadly, my candidate dropped all association with our “Debate for Democracy” agenda, even letting our website expire. I saw that it wasn’t a cause he truly cared about – only a vehicle for getting something he had wanted.

The lesson I learned first hand is that some candidates actually care about their goal of improving society through the positions they advocate – and others are simply trying to make a name for themselves.

Come to The Courier-Herald’s debate and decide for yourself who wants to advocate for your best interest. In any case, it’s your tax money.

I invite you to e-mail your questions for the candidates directly to me. Send them to publisher@courierherald.com and join us in October.

By Publisher Brennan Purtzer

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