Addressing Real Issues with Real Facts

Bank of microphones via Facts Matter Addison

Lingering Forum Issues

in Addison Texas elections 2016 by

With tonight’s Candidate Forum just hours away, false information and innuendoes continue to be spread by some candidates who say they will not attend. Unlike candidates of the past, many of whom had differing opinions, two of the current candidates don’t want to give residents the opportunity to hear their views so voters can compare differences. 

One in particular, Jim Duffy, has posted the following on Facebook:

“Addison Candidate Forum???

You may have received a card in the mail announcing an Addison Candidate Forum for Monday night next week. No matter what the card says, you will not see all six candidates there and the organizers knew that when they sent out the card.

That is the question. Who is the organizer of this event? It is not a Town of Addison event. The sponsors listed on the card are not the organizers; they are just paying for it.

The organizer did not consult in advance with any of the candidates running in opposition the the incumbent council members. No one has had any input as to format, timing or any other aspect of the ‘forum’.

After being informed of this event a number of weeks ago I have asked repeatedly for the identity of the organizer. Who made the arrangements, who selected the format, who picked the moderator, who is screening the questions?

That’s right. The card says plenty of time for questions. What they don’t say is your questions will be submitted in writing and screened by some anonymous person or persons to be presented to the candidates. This is not an open forum.

I will not be there Monday night. I will not participate in an event without knowing who organized it and their true agenda. This is not a forum it is a sham.”

In this post Duffy argues that the organizers “did not consult in advance with any of the candidates”, and “no one had input as to format, timing or any other aspect of the forum”.

This prompted us to provide a little more fact checking, including a call to Bob Heckman, the volunteer emcee for this year’s forum.

Fact: This is the seventh year that the Addison Candidate Forum has been held

In no year did candidates have input on format, timing or any other aspect. As was the case with the Addison Business Association’s Forum. Former candidates such as Neil Resnick, Margie Gunter, and Diane Mallory participated in these Forums, even when they had opponents with differing views.

Fact: Volunteers have always coordinated the forum, seeking sponsorships and inviting an outside Judge to moderate to ensure non-partisan moderating

This year Judge David Kelton has been asked to moderate.

Fact: As for timing, the Addison Business Association selected their date, their format and their questions and invited the candidates two weeks prior to the event and requested no input about any of it — just an invitation to attend

Duffy and Walden attended as did Heape and Carpenter.

Fact: The Addison Candidates Forum invitations went out five weeks prior to the event

Fact:  Skip Robinson served in the past as the master of ceremonies, coordinating activities but stepped aside this year to remove any potential conflict since he is currently the Chair of Planning & Zoning

In his place Addison’s 23-year resident Bob Heckman was asked to coordinate and serve as emcee. Heckman, who previously worked for IBM, has considerable experience speaking and conducting workshops.

We interviewed Heckman to confirm how this year’s Forum is being conducted as compared to past Forums.

Fact: Heckman is following the same procedure that has been followed for seven years, which includes asking each candidate to submit four questions that they would like to be asked — two of which will be used

This gives each candidate equal opportunity to address topics of their choice.

Fact: In lieu of continued criticism of the fact that candidates were given an opportunity to submit these questions, it should be noted that the Addison Business Association, which hosted its own candidate forum, submitted all of their questions to the candidates prior to the actual forum, which did not seem to preclude Duffy and Walden from participating

Fact: Each candidate has additionally been sent two generic questions, which all candidates will be asked

Again, providing equal opportunity for all candidates to prepare their answers and address the same question.

Fact: Heckman personally reached out to each candidate, offering to meet with them one-on-one to discuss any questions or concerns

He personally met individually with five of the candidates, including Walden and Angell; Duffy declined to meet with him.

Fact: Heckman further invited any candidate who could not attend the forum the opportunity to provide a written statement to be read by Judge Kelton at the beginning of the Forum, stating why they were running and what their vision is for Addison

By including these statements in the candidate’s absence, it would at least give them some presence with their views. As of 4/14, no one has taken Heckman up on his invitation.

Fact: Audience members will be invited to write questions for the candidates on cards

Volunteers Art Coerver and Bart Huemmer, Yavonne Mollica along with Heckman will collect questions from the audience and select questions based on the following criteria: “There will be two types of questions, based on past forums — questions directed at individual candidates and questions that will be asked of all candidates,” Heckman advised.

“We will make sure that the questions are evenly spread among the candidates in order to provide attendees an opportunity to get to know each of you better and to understand your position on important issues,” he further advised.

This exact process has been acceptable for candidates for seven years. In fact most candidates are appreciative of the opportunity to share their vision; their positions and to explain their thinking with residents so that people can make informed decisions.

Yet suddenly some candidates appear to be reluctant to go head-to-head with the candidates they wish to unseat, which begs the big question:


Broad brushed statements are easy to list on a post card but when supported by specifics and facts, it allows everyone to make more informed decisions.

A candidate forum is an ideal time for candidates to do just that — to clarify with more detail what may be difficult to detail in a flyer or other campaign material.

As an example, we have pulled from each candidate’s campaign material statements that could all use more detail and explanation.  Perhaps you can address one or more of these at tonight’s forum.

Or, if you are unable to attend, perhaps you can gain more specifics as you talk to the respective candidates at a meet-and-greet event or as they come to your door.

Incumbent Janelle Moore

Addison is an economic driver for our area and I want to continue raising the bar of who we are and what we represent.

Question: In what ways do you see ‘raising the bar’ to demonstrate “who we are and what we represent”?

Opponent Al Angell

Eliminating incentives for developers.

Question: If traditional incentives that have attracted such developments as Addison Circle, Vitruvian and Village on the Parkway are eliminated, how do you propose bringing new economic development to Addison?

Incumbent Mary Carpenter

I am committed to my perspective as a woman on the Council.

Question: Why does gender matter and what can you provide as an example that demonstrates the importance of a female perspective?

Opponent Jim Duffy

Give first responders the necessary tools to help keep you safe.

Question: Not that long ago the Council approved a $750,000 specially equipped, state-of-the art fire truck. What tools do they not have to keep us safe?

Incumbent David Heape

I can say with confidence that Addison is well positioned to remain a shining star; however, we must remain responsive and flexible to adapt to external forces in real time.

Question: What specifically will you support to adapt to external forces in real time?

Opponent Paul Walden

With your help we can reduce taxes.

Question: How specifically do you intend to reduce taxes?

Opponent Al Angell  

Has a vision for growth.

Question: What is your vision for growth and what costs are associated?

Incumbent Janelle Moore  

I see many possibilities for the Town of Addison. We have an absolutely wonderful foundation and this foundation is just beginning.

Question: What specifically do you think needs to be added to Addison’s foundation?

Opponent Jim Duffy

Stop inappropriate expenditures of bond funds.

Question: What inappropriate expenditure of bond funds? According to the Dallas Morning News, a bond package for $11 million was approved in 2000 for the Belt Line Road project. An additional $10 million was approved in 2012 (Resnick, Gunther and De Francisco were on the council at that time). Would you not have approved doing the Belt Line improvements?

Incumbent David Heape

We must adapt to demographic changes. The median age of Addison residents is 32.5.

Question: What potential decisions need to be considered to meet the changing demographics?

Opponent Paul Walden

Proper prioritizing of a competitive (above average) pay package.

Question: Instead of the merit-based compensation plan recently approved, are you in favor of a guaranteed step plan?

Incumbent Mary Carpenter

Vision: That we will eventually have the Cotton Belt Railway system.

Question: What are you doing to see that this happens?

As for tonight, Jim Duffy has publicly declined to participate. Paul Walden has likewise declined, noting that he will be out of town for business but if he were in town he would not participate. Al Angell is a question, as he had not responded as of Friday.

Regardless of who shows up tonight, and regardless of whom you plan to vote for, this candidate forum provides an opportunity to gain more information than what can be gleaned from a simple statement printed on a postcard. That seems like a couple of hours that are well worthwhile.

Addison Candidate Forum April 16 2016 


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