A total of 23 city election candidates in five different Gloucester city election races will face your questions regarding city and school issues next week when the Gloucester Daily Times hosts a series of free public debates at the Gloucester Stage Company’s Gorton’s Theatre.
The schedule, firmed up over the weekend and announced today by Times Editor Ray Lamont, calls for the candidates for mayor, the Ward 2 and 5 city council seats, the councilor-at-large race and the contest for School Committee to discuss and debate the issues next Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 16 and 17, on the East Gloucester’s theater’s intimate stage.
While all of the debates will be free and open to the public, Lamont emphasized that Gloucester residents can take on a larger role than simply sitting in the audience. As in past years, all of the questions posed in the debates will be based on questions submitted through the Times, with a deadline set for a week from today at noon.
All questions must be asked in a manner that will allow them to be answered by both or all of the candidates, with no question targeting any specific candidate.
Anyone with questions for the candidates — in any of the races — should be emailed directly to Lamont at: email@example.com, or may be sent via mail to Lamont, care of the Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester MA 01930, or brought to the Times offices at the same address. All questions should specify which race the question is referring to. School questions, for example, can be directed to School Committee candidates, the mayoral candidates, or both.
“We’ve always thought it’s important to give residents the chance to have direct input and pose questions to the candidates who are asking for their votes,” said Lamont, who will once again serve as moderator for all of the debates. “And this format does precisely that.”
No questions will be taken from the audience on the night of the debate in order to eliminate any effort to target any of the individual candidates, he added. The number of questions asked will be contingent on the time available, but each debate should include at least a half-dozen questions, with the hourlong, two-candidate debate between Mayor Carolyn Kirk and challenger Mac Bell expected to include more.
The schedule for this year’s Times debates is as follows:
Wednesday, Oct. 16 — 6:15 p.m. — Ward 5 candidates Scotadam Chernov and William Fonvielle (30 minutes);
Wednesday, Oct. 16 — 7 p.m. — Ward 2 candidates Melissa Cox and Ann Frontiero Mulcahey (30 minutes).
Wednesday, Oct. 16 — 8 p.m. — Councilor-at-large candidates Joseph Ciolino, Sefatia Romeo Theken, Robert Whynott, Gregory Verga, Steven Curcuru, Robert Whitmarsh Jr., Paul Lundberg and Dennis Latham (1 hour).
Thursday, Oct. 17 — 6:30 p.m. — School Committee candidates Jonathan Pope, Kathleen Clancy, Melissa Teixeira, Tony Gross, Joel Favazza, Hannah Scialdone Kimberley, Jack O’Maley, John J.D. MacEachern Jr. and Michelle Sweet. (1 hour).
Thursday, Oct. 17 — 8 p.m. — Mayoral candidates Carolyn Kirk and Mac Bell.
All the debates will include time for all candidates to respond to each question — with added time for rebuttals and follow-up comments.
The mayoral debate between Bell and Kirk will also include an added feature: Each of the candidates, at some point in the debate, will be allowed to pose a question to his or her opponent.
“We’ve tried that out with some races in the past, and I think it adds a lot to the event,” Lamont said. “It gives voters the chance to see and hear not only how they respond to our readers’ questions, but what issues they want their opponents to address. It can be very telling, and the idea of these debates is to give readers, as well as audience members, the information and views they need and should have come Election Day.”
That format is also expected to be used this morning when Kirk and Bell discuss the issues in an 8 a.m. debate hosted by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce at The Elks at Bass Rocks.
In addition to the Gloucester Stage Company audience on the debate nights, all of the debates will be recorded and broadcast multiple times in the following days and weeks over Cape Ann TV.
“We’re very grateful to Cape Ann TV to help us get the candidates’ views out to the voters, as well,” Lamont said. “And we’re especially grateful to the Gloucester Stage Company for hosting these debates. It just shows once again what a wonderful and true community resource the Stage Company has become.”