Saturday, September 27, 2008

School Board candidate forum scheduled for Oct. 21

The Kimball and Walker School PTOs is once again sponsoring a Board of Education candidate forum on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Christa McAuliffe Auditorium at Concord High School.
The moderator for the forum will be Ralph Jimenez of the Concord Monitor.
According to organizers, the forum will give voters the opportunity to hear from all of the candidates running for school board [there are six running for three 3-year seats; two running for a 1-year seat]. Those who plan on attending will be allowed to submit questions via index card. People who cannot attend can send questions via email ahead of time to Pia Shea, of the Walker PTO, at
Since I have moderated these forums twice in the past [2005 and 2006, when working for a local radio station], I can tell you that it is a great opportunity to meet and listen to the candidates running for school board. After each forum, I knew exactly who I would be voting for.
The forum is also usually recorded for cable access so if you can't make it, you can watch it on television in rebroadcast, if you have Comcast cable [it may even been put up online since cable access has been doing that lately]. It might even be recorded and broadcast on the radio, like I used to do.
Personally, I don't know if it is the best idea to have Jimenez moderating the debate. There could be a preception of bias since he is one of the editors at the Monitor who has opined in favor of the elementary school consolidation plan, easily the biggest issue the next round of school board members will have to deal with. Similarly, if asked, I wouldn't have moderated it this year, even though I have done so in the past, because I'm openly supporting one of the candidates, Eric Williams [I wouldn't and didn't last year because I was support Rick Watrous].
At the same time, thinking about it a little deeper, there might not be anything to worry about. Unlike a major presidential debate, it is difficult for moderators to get into the middle of forums like this. At the same time, I'm surprised the organizers didn't try to find someone, like a reporter or someone else, who clearly does not have potential bias towards any of the issues facing the candidates.

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