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Faith restored

October 24, 2007 - LLee Janssen

I must confess, going into this week, I had a sense of dread ... three political forums, back-to-back.

The Sun-Gazette has been involved in political forums only in recent years. Sure, we've always covered them. Back in the day, the League of Women Voters staged them, and the torch was picked up by subsequent groups.

Publisher Yahner started the tradition of media-hosted forums here, in partnership with Backyard Broadcasting and the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce in the role of moderator. The motivation was pure and simple: Provide an opportunity to allow the electorate to hear their candidates.

It hasn't always gone smoothly. And no matter what happens, as a panelist asking questions on behalf of the Sun-Gazette, all I can do is sit there and observe, and put all of my trust in the moderator to maintain civility and a forward momentum.

This week, with two nights down and one more to go tonight, my faith is restored. It is restored in that candidates came, they answered and sometimes danced around questions, but they conducted themselves professionally as they faced not just the media panel but also an audience of voters.

My faith is restored by the audience turnout. Sure, there were many supporters of the candidates, but there were many people too who just wanted to hear what those who would lead the city have to say.

And the turnout last night, at the mayoral candidates forum, that not only restored my faith, but the charged atmosphere all the way around was absolutely energizing. How amazing it was to look around the Community Theatre and see every chair filled and even more added behind the candidates to seat an overflow crowd.

Wouldn't it be great to see the same kind of interest at the polls? My hope is that this is a sign that the apathy of voters may be overcome by a strong desire to place leaders in City Hall come Tuesday, Nov. 6. As Vince Matteo so succinctly said last evening, all of that positive energy is wasted if you fail to vote.


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