We, the triumvirate here at Locally Grown, are moving (up? down?) into the world of state politics by hosting a District 25 Senate debate this week, IRL, teaming up with our colleagues at KYMN 1080 AM radio and Paul Krause Creative.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “What are those Locally Grown guys smoking?” Hey, talk like that is against our Locally Grown Discussion Guidelines. Watch it.
We’d like to bring our brand of civic discussion to an important political debate because we think it’ll be both fun and interesting for us, the candidates, and you, our beloved (most of the time, most of you) fellow citizens.
The candidates are confirmed: Kevin Dahle (DFL-endorsed), Ray Cox (Republican-endorsed), and Vance Norgaard (soon-to-be-Independent-endorsed, photo coming soon). “Oops!” you’re saying. “The primary is this Tuesday. What if Cox doesn’t win the Republican primary? And aren’t you undermining the political process by jumping the gun?”
According to Ross, Tracy, and my current wife, Robbie, I’m a judgmental bastard when it comes to people and/or organizations who don’t have blogs but should. Neither Rod Tietz nor Keith Swenson have blogs. (They don’t even have web sites. The Norgaard campaign promises a revamped site/blog shortly.) If you don’t have a blog, you don’t exist in the blogosphere, you’re off the Locally Grown radar.)
If Cox doesn’t win the primary, I may have to eat those words. So get out there to the polls tomorrow, vote early and vote often, no matter what election judge Alex Beeby says.
“What’s the debate format?” you ask? Don’t gitch’er panties in a bunch. I’ll get to that. More important, the venue! It’s at The Grand Event Center, as you can see from Ross’ photo above, taken this afternoon. Owner Chuck Pryor is graciously letting us use The Grand at no charge. Libations of all kinds will be available. When’s the last time you attended a political debate and were able to imbibe? So if you attend, support this local business — responsibly, of course.
- We’ve told the candidates that they each will be allowed a 3-minute opening statement but it should be used as an opportunity to present themselves to our audience in a way (tone, content) that’s not available via their brochures, web sites, or advertisements. In another words, no bio/background stuff but vision, inspiration, stories, purpose, reflections, etc. We didn’t explicitly rule out singing, poetry, dancing or other performance art, so who knows what to expect.
- We’ll prepare a series of opening questions. (We’ve asked each candidate for their list of top-5 issues that they’d like to see us consider having addressed.) For each issue, we’ll say something to the effect of: “Talk with each other for the next 5 minutes or so about ISSUE X. Feel free to ask each other questions and challenge each other’s statements. Address each other, not the audience. Be brief in each exchange so that it’s a conversation, limiting yourself to 30 seconds or so, 1 minute tops.”
- We’ll then turn to you, the audience and ask if anyone wants to ask any follow-up questions to what they just heard. We’ll emphasize that these need to be questions, not your comments or reflections.
(We’ll have 2 or more mics for us to roam the audience to take questions. If you raise your hand, we will hold the mic in your face; we won’t let you hold the mic, as this allows us to shut you off, should you become long-winded or otherwise troublesome.)
- We’ll decide on the spot whether to allow you, the audience member, to respond back to the candidate(s) with a follow-up question.
- We’ll continue this series of questions from us, the Locally Grown co-hosts, for 30 minutes or so.
- We’ll then invite you, our audience members, to raise your hands to ask a question of one or all candidates. We’ll ask you to identify yourself. We’ll decide on the spot whether to A) encourage conversation among the candidates as a way of answering; B) allow you to follow-up with a question.
Our overall goal with this format is to make this both informative and interesting while having some fun. We don’t intend to cover the waterfront on the issues, but what issues are covered, we’d like to go into more depth than is usually done.
We’ll have the audio and video of the event available here on our blog ASAP. KYMN will broadcast a recording of the debate during our regularly scheduled Locally Grown time slot, Wed. Dec. 26, 5:30 PM.
So in preparation for this momentous occasion:
- What are the pros and cons of this format? We’re making this up at the last minute and we have zero experience or expertise. It’s not too late to change things, though anything major would have to be agreed to by all the candidates.
- What questions would you like us to ask the candidates on your behalf? If we decide to use your question, we’ll use your name.