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“IT’S NOT UNUSUAL FOR A DEBATE NOT TO BE TELEVISED”

by Sharon Rondeau

League of Women Voters (LWV) member Deb Polun will moderate a debate among three candidates for Connecticut’s 52nd District House of Representatives seat on Wednesday evening

(Oct. 12, 2014) — Following The Post & Email’s interview with Linda Louise Lacasse, who is running as an Unaffiliated candidate for the Connecticut House of Representatives’ 52nd District, we reached out to the moderator of the debate, which will take place among Lacasse, Republican contender Kurt Vail and Democrat contender David Pinney on Wednesday evening.

The district comprises the towns of Stafford and Somers on Connecticut’s north-central border with Massachusetts.

The moderator, Deb Polun, represents the Greater Hartford division of the League of Women Voters (LWV).

Lacasse had told us that Vail had strongly opposed the idea of broadcasting the event, while Pinney expressed no position.  Lacasse wanted it televised for the benefit of home-bound voters unable to hear the debate in person but agreed to participate after Vail’s objections were sustained.  She explained her sentiment at the time as “I’m not going to not have the debate.”

Vail and Pinney did not respond to The Post & Email’s respective invitations to be interviewed.  While Vail responded to our inquiry about the broadcast aspect in general terms, he did not directly address why he opposed it.

The debate is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday at the Stafford Senior Center and will last an hour.

Lacasse related the guidelines set by the LWV to The Post & Email during her interview on Thursday, which include a 15-minute speaking time limit for each candidate.

The Post & Email asked Polun:

1.  In your opinion, was it a general consensus among the three candidates (Lacasse, Vail, and Pinney) not to have the debate televised?

2.  In your experience, is it unusual if one or more candidates does not wish a debate to be televised?

3.  In your experience, is it unusual if one or more candidates does not wish to take spontaneous questions from the audience?

4.  If the event were to be televised, which station or stations would have been been there?

5.  Are you moderating other debates for Connecticut Senate and House races this season, and have you done so already heading into Election Day 2014?

6.  Do you think there is enough attention paid by the public on local races as opposed to the U.S. Congress and president?

7.  What do you think the results of the recent Stafford budget referendum which passed after the fifth time with only 1,939 voters casting ballots out of a total of 7,398 registered voters signifies, if anything?

http://www.staffordct.org/news.php?table=news&id=2210

to which Polun responded:

1. All candidates would have needed to agree to have video.
2. I don’t know what has been done for the 52nd district in the past. It is not unusual for a debate not to be televised.
3. I have seen debates both with and without live audience questions. I would not call it unusual to not have live questions.
One distinction I’d like to make: the League of Women Voters of Greater Hartford does not offer a format with “spontaneous” audience questions; instead, if audience questions are desired by the candidates and sponsors, audience members write down questions on index cards, and those are screened for duplication and relevance to the office the candidates are running for before given to the moderator to add into the question stream.
4. I have no idea.
5. Yes. This season I have moderated a debate for the 19th state House district. I have one upcoming for the 15th House district and 5th state Senate district.
6. An informed citizenry is critical to a well-functioning democracy. Although the media tend to focus on national or statewide issues, neighbors tend to discuss local issues with each other. Local issues usually impact people most directly (e.g, whether the library is open on Sundays, how often and how well the roads are plowed, paved and maintained). Most importantly, I hope that people seek out unbiased information about issues and candidates.
7. I can’t comment on that referendum specifically.

The Post & Email notes that the LWV describes itself as “non-partisan” but often takes positions on issues, leaning politically to the left.

 

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