Here's the Scoop: October 26, 2011

Let’s debate that point
I attended my first political debate last night. It was quite an interesting show.

For probably the first time in history, the Town of Middletown has four candidates running for supervisor. This fact in itself is quite odd because it’s a position that, when someone tells others that they are running, the typical response is: “Why in the world would you want that job?”
A very good question, indeed.

The thing that makes local political races so interesting is that the participants are usually well-known.

In fact, I’m friends with three of the supervisory candidates and know the fourth in passing. It’s not like, say, in some national elections, where a new candidate who no one has ever heard of is rolled out every few weeks and is soon adorning the cover of Newsweek and leading in the polls. For three days.

Nope, the folks running in this election are regular people who we see pretty much on a daily basis. I guess that’s why the debate was so interesting. For the sake of full disclosure, the Catskill Mountain News sponsored this event. Plus, I also happen to be a member of the Middletown Town Board. Naturally, I no longer have to report on those meetings.

On the other hand, I will be sitting at the table with the new supervisor, trying to sway this person to see things toward my vision for the town. Wait, it’s an election year for me, too. What I meant was, I will be working cooperatively with the new supervisor for the betterment of the town. Whew.

Others having all the fun
Fortunately, I am not being challenged in my re-election bid and didn’t have to participate in a debate. That’s good, since I’m not a big fan of public speaking. That’s because I tend to say what I think and, well, some people actually remember that stuff. This can be very detrimental in politics.
I still recall in ninth grade when our English teacher-turned-Catskill Mountain News columnist, had us participate in an exercise designed to hone public speaking skills. As I remember, we had to write a script and stand in front of the class and “sell” a commercial product with our advertising pitch.

This may sound like a simple concept, but place an awkward teenager (is that redundant?) in this situation and it can be pretty intimidating. Clearasil was the product that most of us should have been endorsing, which only added to the stress of the presentations.

The good news was that I received a passing grade on my “commercial.” The better news is that I didn’t have to “sell” anything this week in front of the standing-room-only debate crowd.
The event proved very worthwhile and informative. It’s also been great “debating” which candidate won with those who attended or who tuned in on radio or TV.

Soon, everything will be up to the voters to decide who gets the highest marks on their campaign. The ballot box will prove to be the ultimate report card. I’m glad I’m not getting graded on this one.
— Brian Sweeney