On mayoral forums and debates, no-show incumbents and “a spectrum of opinion.”


“But the bigger the office, the more need for a public exchange of ideas. The candidate who can’t agree with that much devalues our democracy.”

Jeff Gahan missed the Southern Indiana Realtors Association candidate luncheon last Thursday. I asked one of the organizers about it, and he said, “He was really hard to reach, and when we finally did, he said he’d try to make it.”

File under “THEMES, recurring.”

Seeing as Kevin Zurschmiede is a realtor, perhaps Gahan thought he’d be at a disadvantage. I feel much the same way about the League of Women Voters’ bizarre decision to award its debate venue to Gahan’s own Silver Street Park building, but it won’t stop me from attending the event.

Sept. 24 “fix” at the Taj Mahal: I’d prefer a genuine debate to a staged re-enthronement, but let’s do it.

I’ve spoken with several persons who feel that Gahan won’t come to any of the upcoming forums. I persist in thinking he will. Here are the occasions as revealed to me thus far.

Building & Development Association of Southern Indiana
Thursday, September 10, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
300 Spring St, Jeffersonville, IN 47130

New Albany Housing Authority Candidate and Voting Information Session
Tuesday, September 22, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
300 Erni Avenue Gymnasium, New Albany, IN 47150

League of Women Voters Candidate Forum 
Thursday, September 24, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Silver Street Park, 2043 Silver Street, New Albany, IN 47150

Leadership Southern Indiana New Albany Mayoral Debate
Tue, September 29, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
New Albany High School, 1020 Vincennes Street, New Albany, IN 47150

This editorial was written in New Jersey in 2014, not New Albany, but significant portions are quite relevant to us.

N.J. incumbents must stop dodging debates: Editorial (NJ.com)

… the big-ticket incumbents who won’t debate their opponents — particularly those leading in the polls who are just trying to run out the clock until Nov. 4 — are doing their constituents a disservice.

Politics is a debate of ideas, and elections are a referendum on who best expresses those ideas, but it’s hard to compare two candidates if one guy refuses to stand still for more than a few hours.

It’s disappointing that U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is one of them. His decision to engage in only one debate against Jeffrey Bell gives credence to the assumption that they serve but one purpose: to reinforce your prior decision to vote for the blue team or red team, which is precisely the problem with our pro-wrestling-level of political discourse nowadays.

Perhaps the best way to drag incumbents out of their comfort zone is a third-party candidate who could tell the others why they’re out of touch, which isn’t beyond reason in a country that lives in a perpetual state of war, can’t feed its hungry, can’t educate its kids, and can’t bring itself to punish the Wall Streeters who bankroll the major party candidates.

You know, a spectrum of opinion. Democracy.

But Booker needs to have more than one debate with his Republican challenger. Bell is often dismissed by Democrats as dotty and irrelevant, but he has the courage to be on a ballot and he deserves to be heard. Who said so? Bill Bradley said so. He and Bell had 21 debates when they ran for Senate in 1978, and though Bell lost the vote, he scored significant points: When Bradley authored the legislation that overhauled the federal tax code – the two-bracket system — he incorporated some of Bell’s ideas.

Those days are gone. Frontrunners have been programmed to avoid the gotcha moment, as one slip in the morning gets you pilloried during the B-block that evening on Hannity or Maddow …