Scarp: Inspired by Lehrer for Scottsdale’s debates - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Scarp: Inspired by Lehrer for Scottsdale’s debates

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Posted: Sunday, September 28, 2008 12:15 am | Updated: 11:59 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

 I don’t know Jim Lehrer. Jim Lehrer isn’t a friend of mine. So it’s no surprise that — I’m no Jim Lehrer.

Read Mark Scarp's blog, 'Scarpsdale'

When the host of PBS’ “News-Hour” once again took the moderator’s chair at Friday’s presidential debate, letting everyone know that he — and he alone — came up with the questions and no one else helped or had any say-so in what they would be, he looked very much in charge and in control.

A nation gathered, eager to watch the two presidential candidates, with Lehrer coolly and competently running the show.

As it has been with several previous presidential forums he’s moderated, Lehrer’s questions were as good as the answers Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama gave.

And I gulped.

I’ve been moderating the Tribune’s televised candidate forums for Scottsdale city elections, as well as a few here and there for Congress and the state Legislature, for several years now.

It took a little time for a newspaper guy with a face for radio to get used to cameras and lights, but after that, the chief worries you have are, first, is anybody really watching out there, and second, are we asking the right questions?

Well, to the first question, somebody’s definitely out there. More than 29,000 votes were cast for Scottsdale mayor.

My colleagues, city editor Bill Bertolino and reporter Brian Powell, and I feel satisfied with the list of questions we have come up with for our mayoral and City Council debates, which will be broadcast live on CityCable Channel 11 on Thursday, the only date we could get the candidates together.

The stakes are high and voters are fairly evenly split:

Neither the mayor’s seat nor the three open seats on the council were filled in the Sept. 2 city election; they must be decided in a Nov. 4 runoff.

Expect the major issues to come up in our forum: preserve, budget, accountability, revitalization, airpark and so on.

But while we believe that we’re pretty good at coming up with questions Scottsdale residents want the answers to, maybe, just maybe, we’re not quite yet at that Jim Lehrer level.

Who is seated on the Scottsdale City Council will have direct bearing on the resolution of many issues facing the community.

These issues range from transportation to development to transparency, as well as the selection of the next city manager, the person who actually runs city government and directs the municipal services taxpayers foot the bill for.

So, call it hedging our bets, or improving ratings, or selling newspapers — or whatever it is journalists are constantly accused of — but just in case we might have missed your particular issue in our list, please write to tell us about your questions for the candidates.

You just might hear it asked during Thursday’s debate.

Send your submissions to scottsdaleissues@evtrib.com no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday.

DEBATE SCHEDULE

While we can’t do anything about the city election sharing the Nov. 4 national and state ballots, we could control our little corner of the electoral world.

With Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin squaring off in the vice presidential debate Thursday night, we wisely chose to hold ours in the daytime.

On Thursday, mayoral candidates will appear live at 9:30 a.m., with council hopefuls live at 11 a.m. on Channel 11.

Replays will be at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. (mayor) and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. (council) on the next two Sundays: Oct. 5 and 12.

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