Candidates nights: the inside scoop before the last 3 events

I try to keep all the events posted for people at www.electesrati.com/events, as far as I know, I’m the only one who does this, and certainly the only one who videotapes every event and posts them to youtube.

Tomorrow night we have the UpDayton forum at Wiley’s Comedy Club. Trust me, being able to drink while listening to most candidates talks makes it more bearable. Unfortunately, I don’t drink.

Let me explain the devolution of politics for you. We don’t have debates.

Here’s the definition- it seems to be forgotten: a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.

The way most candidates present: My name is ______________, I was born in Dayton, went to school at _____________, work doing _______________.

The audience should immediately start braying like a donkey. As if the candidate had anything to do with where they were born- and as if an education counts as qualifications for election (one only needs to look at Congress to see that anyone is equally capable of being a moron and elected at the same time).

Then they launch into their “platform”- which is either a history of committees or posts they’ve served on or their previous elected experience. At no point do they actually talk about anything they plan on doing- unless they are referring to some vaguely worded “plan” “roadmap” or “blueprint”- none of which means anything (especially if they’ve already been holding office and haven’t already implemented at least part of it….). Then they remind you of their name and to vote for them. Wow.

When it comes to questions- no, voters don’t ask about multi-million dollar investments in real estate by the city, or tax breaks for General Electric, or police hiring, or voting records, no, they ask about red light cameras and speed cameras. At least of the incumbents.

Never are candidates given the chance to ask each other questions, never are discussions focused on a subject for anything other tan a cursory 2 minute answer- without any give and take. The closest we’ve had to real questions was at the AIA lunch event, where a moderator asked questions we were supposedly given in advance. And, still, the answers didn’t require much research or thought.

That’s why this Thursday, Preservation Dayton may provide one of the most interesting events of this season. I am posting the entire communication they sent in prep last night for you to see what real, substantive questions look like. I hope to see you at the RTA center on Thursday night:

Candidates’ Forum – Vision for Protecting & Improving Dayton’s Housing and Commercial Buildings
Thurs. Oct. 24, 2013 7 – 9 p.m.
Dayton RTA Cultural and Community Center 40 S. Edwin C. Moses Boulevard, Dayton, OH, 45402 (937) 333-2489

Questions for candidates:

1) Building code compliance has been a major challenge for the City of Dayton for over 50 years. Deterioration of many Dayton neighborhoods has been drastically accelerated by predatory lending, unemployment, the financial crisis and more.

Given that many of these forces are largely uncontrollable, how would you go about protecting our existing, viable housing and building inventory if elected in November? And where does housing and building code compliance fall on your list of priorities for the City?

2) Compared to other Ohio cities, Dayton seems to lag in innovative policies, ordinances and operational solutions to proactively keep housing and commercial buildings up to code and to address many of the root causes of code violations. Here are some examples:

  • Point of sale exterior inspections e.g. Huber Heights
  • An annual fee for all vacant, undeveloped properties, not just bank-owned properties as recently passed by the Commission e.g. Cincinnati and Sandusky
  • The requirement for all absentee landlords to have a legally registered agent in the City who is held accountable on behalf of the property owner to comply with building codes e.g. Oxford
  • Giving police officers and other appropriate city employees authority to issue building and zoning code violation notices
  • A revolving fund, zero interest loans or other financial solutions to assist low income property owners bring their properties up to code

If elected in November, would you be willing to take a leadership position to implement any of these best practices or any other creative solutions proven to work in cities similar to Dayton? Why or why not?

3) As budgets and staff decrease, how would you go about getting your fellow commissioners and the city staff to fund the necessary budget, technology and staff to implement your vision for improving building code compliance?

Closing remarks: 2 – 3 minute summary of your priorities for improving proactive and efficient code compliance.

Format: Each candidate will be asked to speak on 2 – 3 questions for 3 minutes each. The questions will focus on legislative, policy and operational solutions for addressing deteriorating properties and ensuring the ongoing viability of stable properties in our city.

Audience members will write their questions on 3 X 5 cards and panel moderators will read the questions for your responses.
At approximately 8:40, each candidate will be given 2 – 3 minutes to summarize your top priorities for improving and protecting Dayton’s housing and commercial buildings.

Although these questions are tightly focused on the area of building codes and legal remedies, there are real questions and suggested positions to defend. One could almost learn something concrete from this forum.

Also note, if you are putting together a forum- don’t invite too many candidates because it makes it impossible to get enough substance out of the candidates. Do have a strict timekeeper, and make sure if accepting questions from the audience that they must be a question, they must be brief and focused and directed to all candidates- or all are given equal time to speak. Give at least several weeks notice- and try to make sure that there aren’t other events (like a commission meeting at the same time). Provide a PA- and preferably have the candidates speak from a podium- so that a camera only has to be focused one place.

If you’d like to be extra useful- collect names, emails and phone numbers of all in attendance and deliver to the candidates so they can continue the discussion. Also be aware of candidates bringing entourages to ask questions- instead, give the candidates at least one chance to ask each other questions.

Last but not least, don’t be jerks and try to limit public dissemination of your event. Banning cameras and recording devices- esp at events open to the public is embarrassing (Wayman Chapel on Sunday- this means you). Running for public office is, well, public. Let the first amendment do its job.

UPDATE

Here’s the video

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3 Responses

  1. J Dziwuslki October 23, 2013 / 3:55 pm
    David, I am pretty much disenaged from things these days but am still somewhat interested in the fate of Dayton’s urban fabric.   Hopefully you’ll brief us all here on how that Preservation Dayton event went…
  2. David Esrati October 23, 2013 / 4:34 pm

    @J Dziwuslki- I’ll have video at the least on YouTube.

  3. Dave C. October 24, 2013 / 9:28 am
    Based on the number of comments, it seems your readers are lot more interested in a man in a silly hat going to jail than they are in the upcoming election. 

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