To the Atlantic Highlands Herald:
Me thinks he doth protest too much. The objections that Republican Councilman Steve Boracchia raised to the terms and conditions of the proposed council candidate debate appear to be designed to provide cover for the Republican candidates who might decide to duck the debate, rather than containing persuasive and substantive arguments. Furthermore, Steve’s severe criticism of the judgement of the Democratic and independent candidates who have already agreed to the terms and conditions, puts the Republican candidates in an awkward position if they sign on to the debate. If that comes to pass, should Steve, and we, doubt the judgement of the Republican candidates, too? Or will Steve construct an alternate rationalization?
The terms and conditions required by the League of Women Voters are quite rational and have been developed over many years of experience in holding fair, civil and productive debates. The required constraints on use of material generated by the debate should restrict any party from taking quotes out of context or spinning an opposing candidate’s positions. Steve’s proposal to replace the independent moderator with a resident would be counterproductive. As residents, we all have inherent biases. Similarly, Steve’s suggestion that questions be asked directly by residents instead of an independent moderator would lead to questions that are narrowly related to the questioner’s personal agenda or about national issues unrelated to a council position. My understanding is that the League is soliciting questions from the public and will use the ones that are relevant to our local issues. Having seen craziness and incivility erupt occasionally at council meetings and recognizing the current divisive political climate, I feel strongly that we will be far better off with an independent moderator acting as the adult in the room and curating questions. Furthermore, use of the Zoom platform will prevent any negative audience interference.
Finally, Steve condemns what he believes are the “Liberal … positions” of the League. No matter where one stands on the League’s many goals including improving voting access and stopping voter suppression, their goal of educating voters by sponsoring informative debates should be viewed as a nonpartisan effort and should be supported by all.
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