Smile Politely

Well, there was a debate

For more or less exactly an hour last night, Jerry Schweighart and Don Gerard participated in a briskly-paced, occasionally snippy debate before a packed house in the Robeson Pavilion at the Champaign Public Library.

Stern taskmasters, the ladies at the helm of Chambanamoms got things off to a punctual start at 6:29 p.m. and didn’t slow down from there. I fought a headwind on the way home from work and didn’t arrive until 6:31, after which I fought an extremely slow wireless connection for a few minutes. But, enough whining: click on the box below to replay the live blog of the proceedings:

WILL radio is supposed to be posting audio of the debate on their site, and I’ll link to that at the first opportunity (UPDATE: Here it is; you can stream or download). Also, their plan is to broadcast the debate in its entirety (provided their recording quality was acceptable) tonight on 580 AM at 7 p.m.

Chances are, if you had a preference before the debate, you probably didn’t switch allegiances based on anything that happened last night. The highlights were as follows:

  • Nobody wants to cut city services, and nobody wants to raise taxes
  • Schweighart suggests that mayor’s job is too much work for someone with a full-time job, and says Gerard won’t be able to “double-dip” on his day job
  • Gerard says “I wouldn’t want my secretary scheduling my campaign on city time.”
  • Schweighart able to work Bonnie Blair into an anecdote, a mere 17 years after her last Olympic win
  • Gerard used several quotes of Schweighart’s that Schweighart claimed he made up; Gerard responds that “the Internet is a fickle mistress” and that he’d be citing sources on his website later in the evening
  • Schweighart cited his 12-year run of balanced budgets and steady property taxes; Gerard countered by pointing out Champaign’s current deficit in relation to Urbana’s relative fiscal health
  • Not a lot of differentiation on issues that strayed from concise talking points: both candidates prefer infill for new high school location, but didn’t plan to influence Unit 4 board decision; a lot of vague talk from both sides about “working with people” when it comes to economic growth, dealing with poverty and violence

It was encouraging to see such a great turnout from the community. The League of Women Voters and NAACP announced plans earlier this month to host a second debate. To the best of my knowledge, no specifics have been revealed. We’ll keep you posted as events develop, and election day is less than three weeks away.

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