Debate turn out a good sign

Judging by the turn out to last week’s Greater Napanee deputy mayor candidates debate, residents are very interested in who will serve on the next town council.

With no national research centre conducting polls on how many people plan to vote in Greater Napanee later this month, we’re left with very non-scientific ways to gauge public interest. To that end, the large crowd on hand for the debates at the Strathcona Paper Centre is certainly an encouraging sign. The event was also live streamed and still available to watch online, making it all the more accessible for anyone who wasn’t able to attend in person. Though the technology isn’t exactly new, the idea of live streaming a debate is somewhat of a novel practice in these parts and kudos to 88.7 MyFM for making that happen. As has been said in this space before, live-streamed events are one of the few positive things that were born out of the pandemic. After years of talk about wanting to have council meetings streamed, it was only at the height of a global pandemic that it actually happened. Now that we can gather in person once more, it’s nice to see the virtual option remains-and nice as well that more events are being lived streamed in general.

Given that Terry Richardson has already acclaimed the position of mayor, it was fair to wonder just what kind of interest there would in the race for deputy mayor, so a nice turn out was a welcome sight. As an added bonus, all the candidates running in each of the five wards had a chance to talk as well.

The event itself ran smoothly and was efficient enough that there was time for a ‘bonus’ seventh question on top of the six that were prepared. The candidates were required to be ready for just about anything with no indication as to what could be asked of them that night. Truth be told we have a love-hate relationship with this format. On the one hand, you get raw, unrehearsed answered. At the same time, you also have candidates scrambling at times, offering answers off the cuff that aren’t always reflective of a decision they may make during a council meeting when given more time to research an issue. Pros and cons to each format but then again at the end of the day, anyone who throws their hat in the ring is potentially signing up for a job that will require them to think on their feet at times when constituents approach them looking for answers to a wide assortment of issues.

In larger markets, this is usually the time when an editorial board would get together, declare a winner of the debate and offer an endorsement for the candidate they feel is worthy of representing their riding-or in this case, ward or town. We’ll leave that for the other guys.

Now let’s just hope the perceived interest shown so far translates to a big turn out at the polls.

Adam Prudhomme

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