East Greenwich News and the East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce sponsored a series of candidate forums this month as a public service to the voters of East Greenwich. For the most part, they have gone well.
On Monday, Oct. 3, Town Council and School Committee candidates met at New England Tech. On Wednesday, Oct. 12, we reconvened, this time for a series of three General Assembly candidate forums: House 24, Senate 35, and House 30.
EG News and the EG Chamber have been collaborating on forums like this since 2014 and in each instance the East Greenwich Rotary has provided volunteers and funding to help offset the cost of videotaping the forums.
We are proud of this service we have provided over the years. It has allowed voters to see candidates responding in real time to questions culled from those submitted beforehand by community members. With a nod toward heightened objectivity, the questions were then put in a basket, picked at random by a member of the EG Rotary, then delivered to the moderator. The forums have been informative. Very few communities in Rhode Island are offering this for their residents.
Unfortunately, during the final forum Wednesday evening, between candidates Amanda Blau and Justine Caldwell for House Dist. 20, some in the audience heckled Justine Caldwell and sometimes interrupted both speakers with loud cheers or jeers, despite repeated admonitions to stick to polite applause.
When we ask candidates if they are willing to participate in candidate forums such as those we’ve just presented, we are tacitly pledging to do our best to make sure those candidates are treated with respect. Because of the current political climate, in hindsight we might have better anticipated the possibility of this type of behavior. Going forward, we will make everyone in the auditorium better understand the forum rules and decorum and we will have a security presence to enforce them.
Elizabeth McNamara, Editor, EG News
Steve Lombardi, Director, EG Chamber of Commerce
Why is it always one political party that shows blatant disrespect, rudeness, and even violence when they can’t get their way?
I agree! Antifa and Janes Revenge do nothing but discredit any rational talking points coming from the Democratic Party.
unfortunately, Liza. it’s always a few bad apples to ruin the bushel
Is this really where we are EG News? Where clapping and booing your candidate and elected officials remarks are defined as “heckling” and deemed in need of police presence?
You let a comment here insinuate it was violence?
You violent residents you! How dare you show any emotion when listening to elected officials you are unhappy with? How dare you?
No more debate forums for you! Silence or lectures on decorum and – Police Police Police.
In case you forget: Silence is not how democracy works. Robust debate and expressive discourse, is.
PS: tipping off incumbents that they are using their last rebuttal —- is a no-no.