You might have lost track of, or more likely, lost interest in, who is running for what, in the presidential election. Well, we have the opportunity to choose, at least in the major political parties, between three old white guys — one an actual high-functioning robot. Plus, as everyone keeps pointing out, we have the first female vice-presidential candidate of color, with a Jamaican father and Indian mother, who has also been identified after an intensive investigation by the New York Times as a possible vegetarian. How bout we scratch the racial ID altogether and start calling that female vice-presidential candidate a Californian?
With all the noise from the national campaigns, it’s easy to forget we have some local races as well. Included in those races is one for three seats on the Frederick County Board of Education, and one for spots representing the 6th and 8th Congressional Districts, plus some additional ballot questions. If you’re as confused as I am about those questions, the League of Women Voters of Frederick County has information on all of them, as well as the candidates, at Vote411.org (and inside today’s paper and on the News-Post website).
My own biases point to a “yes” on Question 1 since it gives more power to our state representatives in the budget process; and a “no” on Question 2, since we don’t need legal betting on college and pro games. I’m still on the fence on the four charter amendments.
We’re missing out on seeing and hearing these local candidates at in-person forums, usually hosted by Frederick Community College. But the League of Women Voters of Frederick County has stepped up to provide virtual forums for the local races. The 8th Congressional District forum was held on Oct, 8, the school board candidate forum on Oct. 13, and the 6th Congressional candidate forum on Oct. 15. All three can be accessed at www.facebook.com/Frederickcountylwv.
I’ve watched two forums, one for the 8th Congressional District, and the school board candidate forum last Tuesday night. My impressions from the 8th District Congressional forum, a merciful 49-minutes long, is that incumbent Democrat Jamie Raskin, who might possibly be the love-child of Bernie Sanders, only with a little more hair, is smart and articulate, and that his opponent, Republican Gregory Coll, might be a rocket scientist, as he mentioned five times, but has zilch for government experience — similar to our current president. He is also smart — he’s a rocket scientist, remember — but a little slower in the articulate department, having difficulty coming up with clear answers.
School board incumbents Rae Gallagher and Lois Jarman, and candidates David Bass, Jason Johnson, Sue Johnson and Dean Rose, all took part in the league’s 90-minute forum. Last-minute write-in candidate Paulette Anders had two minutes at the end to make her case. The big question of the night, was if and when the kids could safely return to school. They didn’t ask me, but you’re risking the health of teachers, administrative and support staff, students, and students’ families, if you try to reopen schools when the coronavirus pandemic is nowhere near under control.
When schools do reopen, I hope they reopen with school resource officers. In the current frenzy about law enforcement reforms, we can’t forget why they were put there in the first place — to protect our kids and everyone else in the schools.
The in-person forums have always been popular, but there’s also a lot to like about the virtual, live-streaming, format. Most importantly, you get to see part of the candidate’s house in the background. A complete, virtual house tour would be better.
I also like that there’s no interruptions, the time limit of the answers is under tighter control, and there’s no need, at least at this time, for wearing masks and social distancing. Also, when it’s on a video, and you missed, or didn’t understand, an answer, you can slide back that little blue line at the bottom of the screen and get a repeat performance. Pretty slick.
It takes a lot of work and coordination to set these forums up, and the League of Women Voters of Frederick County has done an excellent job in pulling it off. The league, along with The Frederick News-Post, has done the heavy lifting for us. Now, we have the easy part. All we have to do is vote.
Faithful voter Bill Pritchard, who has worked in community journalism for 40 years, writes from Frederick. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.