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The Scoop - Political debates can have value
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The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was an embarrassing footnote in American history. That seems to be a fairly unanimous conclusion.

But not all such debates are so mind-numbingly void of substance. The Southern Standard and WCPI have been conducting political forums for some 20 years and I’ve always found them to be a useful tool in determining how I vote.

The Standard and WCPI held our first of two political forums on Monday night featuring candidates for state and federal races. The matchup between Janice Bowling and Sheila Younglove for the 16th District seat in the Tennessee Senate is a perfect example of how such forums can be greatly informative if two candidates discuss the issues.

I must applaud both Bowling and Younglove for answering the questions that we asked in a straightforward manner. They didn’t talk around in circles and they didn’t dodge the issues.

They also didn’t agree on anything. If someone wanted to go to the polls and vote for the candidate who best represents their views, watching Monday’s forum will provide a clear indication of how each candidate stands. It's still available for viewing on the Standard's Facebook page.

Voters would have also been treated to an inspirational speech from Christopher Hale, who is running for Congress. He's seeking the 4th District House seat held by Scott DesJarlais.

I rarely pick sides in the newspaper when it comes to candidates, but I’ve always said this: If you don’t find it important enough to come to a political forum to explain how you stand on a few basic issues, I don’t find it important enough to vote for you. DesJarlais has never found it important enough to attend one of our forums.

Candidates for McMinnville Mayor and McMinnville Alderman will take center stage this coming Monday night. I’m anxious to hear what the candidates have to say and the leadership qualities they display because I'm still undetermined on how I will vote.

Two of the characteristics I look for more than anything are integrity and enthusiasm. The way I figure it, I’m not always going to agree with whomever holds the title of mayor. Even if it was my own mother, we would disagree on some issues. 

What’s important is to elect the right leaders – people with positive energy and a we-can-do-it attitude. Government needs to be honest and transparent at all levels. When that happens, local residents gain confidence in their elected officials and they believe in their community.

It’s easy to see how a lack of honesty and an abundance of negativity have crippled the country when it comes to national politics. More Americans than even say we are headed in the wrong direction.

Local politics is usually much more cordial. I'm anxious to see how the candidates present themselves and make an informed choice at the polls.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.