District 5 Candidate Forum

In Politics on 22/05/2009 at 1:52 PM

Today was really interesting; it was the first candidate forum for district 5.  We found out late last night that Angela Rouson would not be attending due to previous engagements but her husband Darryl Rouson came, and apparently nobody really likes him, though most people are cordial with him.  The exception was Ed Helm, who is the President of the Pinellas Point Democratic Society who put together this forum.  As soon as Darryl showed up Ed started ripping into him, being very rude and announcing to everyone that there would be a big debate after the forum between himself and Darryl about why his wife didn’t attend and all sorts of other nonsense, it was VERY unprofessional, from this point I had a feeling that the whole forum would be a mess but I was surprised at how well it went off.  Now, I felt that Darryl’s attendance was rather suspect, especially since Angela has never attended any such meetings or gone public with her campaign yet, but obviously nobody on the Kornell campaign would think about being an ass and start blasting the man in public about it.  Darryl stayed throughout the whole meeting and took many notes and even had the nerve to ask questions, and not salient questions either, tough off the wall questions.  He tried to throw the two candidates who showed up under the bus while his wife who was not present did not have to try to answer the questions.  Though even if she was there I am certain he would have told her the questions he planned on asking anyway.  

Besides Darryl Rouson crashing the party, Alex Haak, a mayoral candidate showed up to voice his opinions, raise a small ruckus and ask an unrelated question to the candidates.  After trying to speak out of turn and butting in at any time possible, Alex wanted to know: “what do you think of having four mayors?” Steve redirected the question so that it made more sense by giving his take on the three deputy mayors that Saint Petersburg has.  Steve first pointed out that neither he, nor anyone else in the City Council would have the authority to do anything about the number of deputy mayors in the city as that is a mayoral duty.  Then he went on to explain that those who were given the title of deputy mayor would have still held the same position under a different title if Mayor Baker did not have any deputy mayors.  Steve said that he would not cut a job just because of a title, if he had that power, he would look into the position and its values before making any decisions.

Luckily, the two candidates acted professionally which really helped this forum, without that I think that it would have been a complete mess.  During the debates there were no negative comments about the other person, or the other person’s stances on the issues, just differentiation where needed.  Much of their stances were similar and both men came of as knowledgeable and trustworthy. What I think may have sealed the deal in this debate was one of the questions from the audience for Steve.  Someone asked Steve about the rumor that he was gay, and how that would if at all affect his behavior on the City Council.  Steve calmly and thoughtfully answered the question as most of the crowd grumbled about how out of line and rude the question was.  His demeanor in answering the question was nothing short of amazing, and everyone saw this which resulted in a standing ovation from the crowd of about 80 people. It was great to see how many people who had not gone in there as a supporter of Steve’s react in such a way that you knew that was a non-issue.  Granted it was a Democratic club who put the forum together so we are not sure if the conservative religious right-wing Republican’s in the county would have the same reaction, with that only time will tell. 

My job for the candidate forum was to videotape the debate.  We were debating about if it would be fair to do so since there were only two candidates of the three that are running.  In case there were any gaffes we did not want to have the third miss out on the opportunity to say something stupid.  Luckily for all sides there were no bad moments in the debate.  We were really glad that we had videotaped the debate when the big question was asked.  We already have that clip up on our YouTube site: and expect a few more of the better clips to go up soon.  Along with taping the debate we pulled a few of the supporters to the side and taped them giving a brief explanation why they support Steve. We were unable to find a quiet place so we may not be able to use the footage for the YouTube page.  

After the forum a few of us went out to lunch to debrief about the day’s events.  Lunch was fun, I was able to take to Steve a bit more about his job as a Social Worker, and I think I will be able to go to school with him one day in the next few weeks to learn a bit more about what he does.  I also got to meet his mother and younger brother.  At lunch we mostly talked about the few things he could do to improve for the next debate, and our plans for the video.  It was more of a social lunch than a work lunch.

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