Advocate Editorial Board opinion: You're invited to watch candidate debates

By the Advocate Editorial Board
March 27, 2013 at 7 p.m.
Updated March 26, 2013 at 10:27 p.m.

Spring brings many things to South Texas. The weather grows warmer, wildflowers peek up out of the ground and city elections are just around the corner.

Yes, it is time for another Victoria City Council election, and we encourage our readers to take part in this critical process to decide the leadership of our hometown. In the past, voter participation in city races have been drastically less than in nationwide elections, such as for a president or senator. This is troubling. It is true, presidential candidates get much more publicity and coverage during their campaigns, but when it comes to daily life, a member of the City Council has a much more immediate effect than a Washington politician. But these are the races that are decided by the smallest percentage of the population.

This is a trend that needs to change. But in order for these elections to be successful, residents must be educated on the candidates and the issues central to each race. As part of our election coverage, the Victoria Advocate plans to hold debates for each of the City Council election races. These debates will be webcast live on our website, complete with a chat box for user questions and comments. We also invite residents to attend the webcast in person, but we ask that they call the newsroom at least 24-hours beforehand so we know how many chairs to have available. The debates will also be recorded and posted on our website for readers to review later, if you cannot watch the live event.

Each debate follows a standard format. Candidates have three minutes to answer each question with a one-minute rebuttal. Candidates will alternate who answers questions first. Questions will be determined in advance, and readers have the opportunity to submit questions for consideration by posting comments on a blog promoting each debate.

Each debate will feature all the candidates for one specific race, with the exception of the mayoral election. This race includes five candidates, so we have split the debate into two times back-to-back. The candidates for each time were chosen based on a random drawing.

Here is the debate schedule:

• The Victoria mayor debates will be at 11 and 11:30 a.m. April 3 and feature Will Armstrong, Paul Polasek, Omar Rachid, Richard Deases and Henry Perez.

• The City Council District 6 debate will be at 11 a.m. April 8 and features Tom Halepaska and Russell Pruitt.

• The City Council District 5 debate will be at 1 p.m. April 12 and features Joe Truman, Gabriel Soliz and Andrew J. Young.

• The special election for City Council District 3's unexpired term will be at 11 a.m. April 16 and features Jeff Bauknight, John T. Hyak and Vic Caldwell.

We encourage our readers to take the time to attend or watch these debates online. Campaigning for City Council may not be as obvious or glamorous as the presidential campaigns, but they are important positions that can have a major effect on your daily life. Residents should take any opportunity to educate themselves and make sure the right people are leading our city.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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