Debate tradition continues

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By Tim Harmon
Indiana Debate Commission

If there’s one thing all Hoosiers can share pride in, it’s our tradition of feisty political indepen­dence.

Democrats preceded the two Republicans in the U.S. Senate, and three Democrats preceded Mitch Daniels, a Republican who is wrapping up eight years in the Statehouse.

Democrat Barack Obama carried the state four years ago; for decades before that, the GOP seemed to have a lock on presidential contests here.

Indiana debates

GOVERNOR

• Oct. 17, DeBartolo Center, University of Notre Dame, South Bend. Tickets available at center ticket office, noon to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, or by calling (547) 631-2800

• Oct. 25, WFWA PBS39 studio, Fort Wayne. No live audience

U.S. SENATE

• Oct. 15, WFYI studio, Indianapolis. No live audience

• Oct. 23, Ogle Center, Indiana University South­east, New Albany. Tickets available at the center’s ticket office, Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-noon, 1-4 p.m., or by calling (812) 941-2526

Voters here have a strong tradition of judging the candidates by what they say, do and stand for rather than by what party they belong to.

Attack ads, sound bites, partisan rallies, folksy commercials – all of it may help a contender build an image.

But the thoughtful voter deserves to hear the candidates explain their approach to the issues the voters care most about.

In that tradition, the Indiana Debate Commission will present three guber­natorial and two U.S. Senate debates this fall (the first was Oct. 10 in Zionsville with the governor candidates). Each will last one hour.

Some of the debates will be before live audiences, in­cluding South Bend (Oct. 17, governor) and New Albany (Oct. 23, Senate).

Free tickets to those events are available or will soon be available. Two will be in television studios (a Senate debate Oct. 15 at WFYI in Indianapolis, and the final governor debate Oct. 25 at WFWA PBS39 in Fort Wayne).

All will be broadcast statewide beginning at 7 p.m. And all of them will feature questions from voters across the state.

To submit a ques­tion, go to www.indianadebatecommission.com.

You can also visit its Face­book page at facebook.com/IndianaDebateCommission.

The Indiana Debate Commission formed in 2007 and began hosting debates in 2008. It has so far conducted eight debates, including a Republican U.S. Senate primary debate in April.

The commission is a nonpartisan organization with one goal: to offer fair, neutral forums where candidates for governor or the U.S. Senate can meet, civilly discuss the issues, and have their candidacies weighed and compared by voters statewide.

Commission members are mostly from 13 media and educational institutions that volunteer their time.

Our monetary support is from member organizations’ foundations and other non-partisan contributions and grants.

We use it to pay for statewide TV satellite service and equipment for each of our debate sites.

The venues hosting the debates donate the use of their facilities and help with ticketing, security, etc.

We and the host facilities for these debates work hard to present first-rate programs that all Hoosier voters can have access to for one reason: so you can make informed choices this November.

Tim Harmon is executive editor of the South Bend Tribune and a member of the Indiana Debate Commission.