The evening was moderated by Eric Ekstrand, chair of BPOU 55A, who took on the very difficult task of maintaining the structure of the debate, and eliciting questions from the citizens in a form that could be answered equally by all candidates. The audience questions came directly from the citizens attending, including current Mayor Will Rossbach and former Mayor Diane Longrie, a local fireman and union members.
Following a format from one of the recent Presidential Primary Debates, that leads to more interaction, the candidates were given 1 minute to speak to the question, and 30 seconds to rebut if they felt they were directly addressed in the statements. An option that the candidates, John Nephew, Rebecca Cave, and Bob Cardinal took full advantage of in the lively 99 minute forum. Candidate Marv Koppen did not attend.
The most intense questioning of the night predictably was related to the current, and sensitive, topic of single hauler garbage collection. A sampling of other questions asked were: "what will be your two main objectives you want to accomplish", "each of you have been on the city council...could you each speak to the levy increases that occurred during your term on the council and your thought process why they were necessary", and related to the fire station closings "are you as city council members willing to think outside the box".
One of the best questions, related to the single hauler garbage issue, came from a citizen who is also a member of a union, as the last question of the night. "We have roughly 12,000 households in the city, we received 1,500 cards back on the garbage issue, that's a substantial number of people that responded ... do you believe that's a large enough number of people who deserve to have their voices heard"? I considered it one of the best because it was reflective of the many studies that have shown that in product complaint systems the number of people who directly complain about a product is very small, typically less than 2-10% of those who do experience/have a product problem, but is a very important indicator. Much like the tip of an iceberg, the mass below the surface is many times larger that what is above the water.
The elections are Tuesday Nov 8. For those readers in the Maplewood area, this forum is one of the best/only ways to see your candidates discussing the issues. To see the candidates answers to these questions and many others, watch the forum and form your own conclusions as you exercise your right to vote on Tuesday.
Go to the HD55A website to watch at