The Forum … a play-by-play

9:15 p.m.
Well, I’m 15 minutes past my deadline.
I’m outta here.
Hope you enjoyed it. I know I did.

9:06 p.m.
The board leadership question: This is what I stuck around for.
Hayes: Didn’t say who he wanted for chairman … said the leader should be a, well, a leader.
Hincks: “I’m the most qualified” … gutsy answer. Says he would open up communication.
Knecht: “I’ll pick who represents my ideals the most.” Won’t say who though.
Lemmond: “Experience and availability.” Won’t say who though.
Oldham: “Experience and leadership.” Won’t say who though.
Paschal: No commitment until after December. At least he was folksy in saying it.

8:50 p.m.
They’ve been talking about the schools for the last 10 minutes. Like the District 2 candidates, most of these candidates point to poor leadership and lack of communication for the failure to renovate or rebuild Lee County High School.
But the big question is this one … the chairman question:
Who would you support for chairman of the board, and what qualities should a chairman possess?
In our discussions with the candidates the past few weeks, we’ve been fascinated with the power struggle going on for chairman of the board (the chairman has the same voting power as anybody else, but he or she can appoint committees and obviously are considered the “leader” during meetings). Herb Hincks, if elected, figures to be a candidate for chairman. Jamie Kelly, a current board member, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate. Some people are basing their votes on which way an elected board member will lean on this issue.
And just to reiterate. This isn’t an issue we “created.” The candidates have brought this up. Plus, look at the signs out there against Hincks. If you don’t think that has anything to do with the chairman position, you’re kidding yourself.
Bill is about the ask the question … unless time keeps him from doing so. Their answers are next.

8:37 p.m.
The 10 words or less question is killing the candidates. Paschal just failed. Oldham failed. Lemmond passed. Knecht passed. Hincks passed. Hayes passed.
They all say dedicated.
I agree with Bill, we need to get the guy who sent in this question.
You just have to watch the videos to get this.

8:35 p.m.
The opening statements? Quick synopsis …
Richard Hayes: Exudes confidence … comes off as a kind professor, for some reason
Herb Hincks: Confident as well, obviously he’s done this before. Points to his accomplishments
Knecht: A little new to this, a little nervous, but points to his business experience and ability to make the tough decisions.
Lemmond: He, too, has been here before. A very likeable guy who points to his support of law enforcement and experience on the board.
Oldham: Here a few weeks after open heart surgery. Instant likability there.
Paschal:”I drove Doc’s bus when he was in the first grade …” big laughter from the crowd. Maybe that’s all it takes to get voted. This guy knows what voters want.

8:25 p.m.
OK, I’m back. I’m halfway through the District 2 story, but the Lee County Commissioner at-large candidates are up there. I’ll be here until 9 … then I gotsta get back to the paper.
The candidates (from left to right)
Richard Hayes, Herb Hincks, Dr. Andre Knecht, Jerry Lemmond, Larry ‘Doc’ Oldham and Ed Paschal.

8:05 p.m.
I’ve started writing my District 2 Commissioner story … tell me if my first two paragraphs make sense.

SANFORD — The two candidates running for the Lee County Board of Commissioner’s 2nd District agree on one thing — that they agree a on a lot.
In Tuesday’s forum hosted by The Herald at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, Democrat Amy Dalrymple and Republican Harry Undy Sr. — both new to Lee County politics — both said they would support a sales tax to fund renovations at Lee County High School, and both touted their leadership experience as a reason they should be elected on Nov. 4.

7:51 p.m.
Up next is Amy Dalrymple and Harry Undy Sr. … these two are running for Lee County Board of Commissioners, District 2. This is the portion of the forum I’m writing about in tomorrow’s Herald. So I may pay a little more attention to this one. (And blog less).
Expect a 15-minute break.

7:45 p.m.
So who won between Love and Shook? Hard to say … this is a debate that could have gone for hours I think, but we have four different races to deal with … and them’s the rules.
Love has done a great job of pointing out Shook’s shortcomings — experience. She’s only been in government for two years as a commissioner, and Love’s right, she hasn’t done a ton as a commissioner. In her defense, it’s been an uphill battle being one of the few Republicans on a Democrat-dominated board.
Shook continues to summon the ghost of Ronald Reagan, which is smart. Republicans love Reagan, and for good reason. He is the granddaddy of today’s Conservative party, and his idea of smaller government is one I personally admire.
It was a good debate, but not one that will sway a ton of people the other way.
If they had another hour, maybe.

7:39 p.m.
I’ve been joined in the booth by Mark Lilley from WBFT … and he points out that his daughter, Corinthia, is the only high-school aged person in the crowd. He and I both find that a bit sad … who says young people are interested in politics?
I’ve also been joined by Bob Joyce from the Chamber of Commerce, but he hasn’t said anything to me yet. I think he’s just guarding my wife’s work laptop.

7:33 p.m.
Why am I still typing “p.m.?”
Next topic: Illegal immigration and the state’s role.
* Love — We have no jurisdiction to deport people. State’s power is in passing laws for the local sheriffs and passing laws to make getting illegal IDs impossible.
Love blames the employers — “It’s the employers who are responsible for hiring these people.”
* Shook — Disagrees with Love. Points to other states like Arizona that use the federal E-verify system, which keeps employers from hiring illegals. Points to state benefits that support illegal immigrants. She’s done her homework in this field.
* Love — We have to educate the children of illegal immigrants. We have to provide health coverage … he says these are federal mandates. He asks what Shook has done as a commissioner to address these problems. “The answer is nothing,” he said. He says she won’t get the job done. Good response.
A tie on this one. I liked Love’s response.

7:25 p.m.
Linda is talking about the state’s budget and the House’s failures there.
We’ve met with Linda a few times leading up to this forum, in endorsement interviews and in a meeting when she first decided to run, and the state’s spending has been her big issue.
How does Jimmy Love Sr. respond?
“We worked through a shortfall when I first was elected.” He also questions some of Shook’s accusations.
Shooks’ response-response?
Back to spending … saying it’s increased 80 percent in the last 10 years. 22 percent faster than the population increase. It’s “out of control” she says.
Love’s response-response-response?
State’s spending was no larger than the county’s spending increase. Ehhh, not a great response.

7:20 p.m.
The Linda Shook-Jimmy Love forum. (District 51 state house of representatives)
THIS is the one I’ve been looking forward to most. It’s been a heated campaign for both, and this is the first time I’ve seen them side by side.
Not a “great” start for Love … his mic didn’t work at first.
Time for another iPhone photo ….

These are my empty food plates, with the candidates in the background. The food, again, was pretty good.

7:15 p.m.
Mansell’s closing statement … he just asked the audience who’s happy with Congress.
No hands raised.
His next question: “Who’s ready for change?”
Many hands raised.
I find it interesting Republicans and Democrats alike are using “change” as a campaign promise.
Still, I think Mansell’s closing was effective.

7:11 p.m.
I feel kind of bad for Dan Mansell, candidate for U.S. Congress. The way today’s forum was set up was quick answers, followed by a few minutes of discussion. Mansell is just getting the quick answers, and because he has no opponent on the stage, he doesn’t get the time to “discuss.”
That said, I think he’s doing a pretty good job. He is confident, he’s humorous and he’s knowledgeable. Is he enough to unseat a pretty popular incumbent?
I’m not sure.
Perhaps that’s why Etheridge didn’t feel it was necessary to attend. I’m not sure where the polls are on this race, but if Etheridge was worried about Lee County’s votes, I’m pretty sure he’d be here.
Mansell appeals well to the right. But will he sway the fence straddlers?
Hmmm, don’t really know.

7:07 p.m.
I’m kinda for drilling in the U.S. … but I’m not real keen on Mansell’s last statement, “I’d drill in your backyard if that’s what it takes.”
By the way … the meatballs rock. Yes, I’m eating at the forum.

7:06 p.m.
Bill Horner needs to moderate the presidential debates next time. The candidates quit talking when he says “time.” I haven’t seen that in a forum yet this year.

7 p.m.
While Mansell is talking about his history … I just want to make the remark that I hate PCs.
Hate them. I’m a Mac guy, and I’m using my wife’s PC laptop here. I’m grateful to have it, but it’s a minor miracle that I’m connected right now and typing.
Quick shout out to Kelly Klug, for figuring this out for me. Bill Gates, I am NOT a fan.

6:56 p.m.
Two minutes into the forum, and the first shot is fired. Dan Mansell calls out Etheridge for not being here … saying Etheridge didn’t think it was “important” enough to come and answer the public’s questions. Zing!

First photo:

I noticed in the photo, the crowd looks sparse. This was before the forum began, and most of the people are sitting toward the back (out of the photo). I just didn’t wanna sound like a liar.

6:50 pm
It’s 6:50, and in just a few minutes, we will begin The Herald’s political forum. I’m in the booth of the small auditorium, looking down on a very nice crowd … I’d say about 75 percent full. More people here than last year’s city council forum.
Bill Horner III just made the introductions … and he gave a plug for the radio show!!!
Looks like Bob Etheridge (or Etheridge’s stand-in) vs. Dan Mansell up first. Etheridge’s stand-in is Mike Lowell. He says Etheridge had a prior obligation.
Which begs the question … what’s more important? The economy or The Herald?
I say the latter.


One thought on “The Forum … a play-by-play

  1. Thanks for the play by play — I always try to attend these and planned to be there tonight, but had a migraine all day and just didn’t feel up to it……you made me feel like I was there right here from my living room couch! And I thought I was gonna miss all the excitement……

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