Schedule more candidate forums

March 25, 2011

In the novel of Burbank politics, right about now would be the chapter that makes you wonder if it’ll ever pay off.

Surely, the debate over whether it’s the fault of the authors — the community stakeholders and politicos that operate the political machine — or the readers — voters who can’t be bothered — won’t be settled here. However, it’s worth pointing out a glaring omission: election forums.

One need only to take a look at the gripping transcript of Glendale politics, played every two years with more forums, some villainous, others benign, than you can shake a fist at. Some say the volatile, rough-and-tumble campaign cycles in our neighboring city represent all that’s wrong with politics, but at least voters there know an election is happening.


Say what you want, but it’s the twists and turns, the inflammatory accusations and the hustle that keep many voters engaged enough to cast a ballot. Much of that can be attributed to grueling schedule of election forums — at some points, three a week — that give potential voters ample opportunity see candidates in the flesh rather than rely on well-edited and -spun campaign materials.

In Burbank, much of the candidate-voter interaction has been relegated to small meet-and-greets and one televised election forum hosted by the League of Women Voters Glendale/Burbank.

Why local politicos decided to water down the Burbank novel doesn’t much matter. The readers clearly have lost interest.

But in anticipation of the sequel that will happen in two year’s time, here’s a modest proposal. Schedule at least two more election forums. There’s something to be said about holding candidates to defend their platforms and opinions to the public forum, where they will tested time and again as our elected leaders.

It takes very little capital to host one, especially since they don’t all have to be to the scale and scope of those put on by the League of Women Voters. A simple table, microphone, and chairs for the audience are all it takes.

Of course, it will take some action on the part of the authors — local community groups, business associations, city stakeholders — to write those plot developments. But if you don’t give readers a reason to keep turning the page, should we really be surprised when they put the book down?

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