Misrepresent. This is exactly what one former Council member would like to do regarding next Monday’s Addison Candidate Forum to discourage attendance.
“They will pretend to be answering questions extemporaneously but, they will be answering questions they asked to be asked, or that were otherwise provided to them in advance,” she writes.
Fact: This is a misrepresentation
As it has been since these forums began. As it was with the Addison Business Association’s Candidate Forum on April 6.
These candidates are not professional politicians. They are regular Addison citizens just like you who care enough about our Town to volunteer their time and knowledge to be a part of our community’s leadership.
It’s a misrepresentation because unlike the Addison Business Association’s Forum, where candidates were given ALL of their questions ahead of time — questions developed by the organization — Addison’s forum asks each candidate to submit 4-5 questions that focus on key messages that each candidate would like to deliver to voters.
From those questions two (2) will be used. This puts all candidates on a level playing field, respectfully enabling each to discuss two issues of importance to them.
“In other words, there is no opportunity for the audience to directly question the candidates,” the writer states as fact. Wrong again.
Fact: During the initial Q & A portion of the program the audience will be asked to submit questions on index cards
Within the time remaining, three to four questions will be answered by candidates from questions submitted by the audience.
The writer further infers that some candidates were consulted about details while others were not, thus the date is not convenient for some.
Fact: The date was set based on availability of the Addison Conference Center, which fortunately has little availability since it is heavily booked by outside, paying clients.
Fact: The moderator, as always, is an impartial non-resident
This year’s moderator is Judge David Kelton.
Fact: The significance of the Forum is evidenced by the seven (7) companies/organizations who have graciously sponsored it
During election time there are candidate flyers, meet and greet events, yard signs and door-to-door meetings. But there are few activities that provide voters the opportunity to gather in one place to hear from each candidate. That’s why most candidates value the opportunity to participate in forums.
Recently four candidates (David Heape, Jim Duffy, Paul Walden and Mary Carpenter) were able to participate in the Addison Business Association’s Candidate Forum. Here, all questions were pre-planned with candidates given time to develop their answers to these questions:
- What changes would you make to the current strategic direction of the Town of Addison?
- What do you consider to be the most significant issue facing the Town of Addison and how would you address it?
- How do you view the role of the business community in assisting the Town of Addison as it addresses significant issues?
- What should the Town of Addison be doing to promote economic development and what is your view of economic incentives?
- In considering and approving the Town of Addison budget, how would you reconcile the tradeoff between responsible cost and highest quality of Town services?
Questions like these give voters an opportunity to see exactly how candidates think and give residents a chance to hear different viewpoints. We attended this forum and here, in part, are a few of the candidates answers:
Regarding significant issues:
Duffy —“The loss of experienced management. We’ve lost 12 senior level mangers. We can’t continue with this trend.”
Heape — “We must be aware of multigenerational needs. We must adapt to the changing market.”
The role of the business community:
Carpenter — “We need a collaborative effort between teams. 87% of our budget comes from business; 13% from residents.”
Walden — Vitruvian Park is an example.
Regarding economic development:
Heape — “I’m a great supporter of the Tree House. We have a full-time economic development team and we will grow residences to attract the next generation of highly educated people.”
Walden — No incentive blanket approaches.
Responsible cost and highest services:
Duffy — “Pay above average because except for above pay there’s no career path so pay and grow that way.”
Carpenter — “No guaranteed pay system.”
There was very little time left for audience questions but two were asked. The first question came from a non-resident businesswoman who expressed anger at not being able to use the athletic club. “We spend millions on it every year and we can’t even use it,” she said. Walden responded that he believed something could be worked out for business people that didn’t live in Addison.
A Council colleague questioned Walden in response to an earlier comment about the town’s strategic vision. “Where were you at three Visioning Sessions that were open to the public?” he asked.
Walden replied that as a citizen there was limited time in each day but as a Council member he would attend such meetings. Duffy also asked to respond and said, “I don’t care about 20 years from now, all I care about is the next one or two years.”
You can see from these brief examples how voters who attend a forum get an opportunity to hear a variety of views, all which are most valuable in helping to determine how they may vote.
So, don’t be misled. And don’t let misleading information sway you or discourage you from attending. The Addison Candidates Forum is an important part of the election process. It follows the same format it has for years, it is well planned, fairly executed and provides an ideal forum for candidates to share their leadership views with you, the Addison citizens they desire to represent.
Hope to see you there!