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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

You should join us for a debate

You should join us for a debate

Yesterday, former Ohio Governor Dick Celeste traveled to Columbus and then Cleveland for a very particular reason: to publicly endorse a candidate seeking the Democratic nomination for US Senator from Ohio. P.G. Sittenfled is that candidate, and what made Governor Celeste's endorsement so interesting was the pains he took to point out the necessity of political debates as a way of informing voters. 

In the interview, Celeste criticizes Sittenfeld's opponent, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, for denying voters the opportunity to compare the candidates side by side. Celeste also notes that the Ohio Democratic party didn't help matters by endorsing Governor Strickland so early in the campaign, 11 months before the primary election. Towards the end, you can hear he and interviewer Tom Beres of WKYC agreeing on the sentiment that if there's no debate at the City Club it just feels like something is missing. 

We agree. That's why we're holding the debate anyway. Some members have called on us to leave an empty chair on the stage in recognition of the missing candidate. Whether that happens or not is up to our debate committee, and regardless, there will be an hour of deep and engaging dialogue on the issues Ohio's US senators must deal with, and that's more important than any symbolic staging. Plus, we'll all get to hear from the other candidate in the race, Kelli Prather, an occupational therapist from Cincinnatti. 

So, if you believe debates are important, you can act on that belief and join us for the Sittenfeld-Prather debate, and in doing so, you'll send a message to public servants who don't like public debates that this is part of the job of the candidate, a basic and reasonable expectation that voters have of the people who are asking for their vote. 

If you can't make it on Monday, February 22nd for that debate, there are two other options that week to get to slake the thirst of your inner political junkie. On Tuesday, February 23rd, at noon, we'll host the candidates for the Democratic party nomination for Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney--and given the attention being paid to that office, we expect that to be a lively debate. On Thursday, February 25th, at 7pm, Brecksville, Broadview Heights, High School, we'll hear from the three Republican candidates hoping to fill the State Senate seat in the 24th District. This event is free, and the race has attracted three GOP candidates with strong track records of accomplishments in the state legislature.

We've written before in this space about our new and evolving approach to debates and audience questions during debates. We know debates are not perfect, and we know they can be better. We continue to believe they can play a role that serves voters, campaigns, the democratic process and communities across our region and the state. They can only play that role, though, when you show up. We hope to see you there!

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