There are five candidates vying for three council seats in the City of Prescott. There are two mayoral candidates - obviously only one can be chosen. By November 7th, the voters in Prescott will make their preference known.
Editor's Note: Please accept our apologies for the technical difficulties encountered in the video. A frequent saying at eNewsAZ is, “Technology is great, until it isn’t.”
So, what happens if a certain candidate actually wins? Will they be able to work together as a team to come up with the best solutions for the City of Prescott? Will they do their homework, read their agenda in advance, know the issues? Will they be creative in seeking solutions or simply be the candidate of ‘No’?
Those were the questions we set out to answer. Whereas most forums and debates put candidates in an adversarial position, which ends up being a contest in one-upsmanship and offers little opportunity for creativity, we wanted to take a different approach.
Council candidate Connie Contalme.
What if we could design a forum that encourages conversation amongst the candidates, and offers a sneak peek into their leadership abilities and problem-solving skills? What if we could create a venue similar to an actual council meeting, with agenda items and issues to those being decided right now by members currently serving?
Council candidate Alexa Scholl.
First step: See if the Council Chambers could be used. Answer: Yes.
Second step: See if candidates would participate. Answer: Yes.
Third step: Plan the details, write the ‘agenda’ and send out invitations. Done.
Fourth step: Announce the event through Prescott eNews, Facebook and the weekly eNews Report. Done.
Council candidate Phil Goode.
Then we simply had to wait to see - how many people would come? Would it work? Would we learn something new about the candidates?
About 50 people showed up for the first-ever Council Candidate Discussion. All the candidates were in attendance except for Jean Wilcox, who had a previously scheduled fundraiser she was committed to attend.
Note, that’s a learning point about Wilcox, who kept her commitment to her supporters. But, stay tuned - an upcoming interview with Wilcox will offer her the opportunity to respond to the issues in the mock agenda presented to the other candidates.
Council candidate and incumbent Steve Blair.
One thing that we did which was a bit unusual - we did not set a hard-and-fast time limit on the candidates. We gave the members of the audience two cards. The white one said, “Time” and the yellow one said, “Applause!"
Then we had a person time the candidates’ responses for 2 minutes each. When the time was up, the audience was notified. At that point, the members of the audience could do nothing, if they liked what the candidate was saying and they wanted to hear more. Or, if the members of the audience had heard enough and believed they had a good idea of what the candidate’s position was, they could hold up their “Time” card. This allowed for interaction from the audience, but was not disruptive.
It worked very well. For the most part, the candidates self-governed their responses to fit within the 2 minute time limit. The candidates also received immediate gratification when they saw ‘Applause!’ signs held up in support of their comments.
The basic topics included:
Development and Annexation
Read the agenda in full here: Council Candidate Discussion: What’s on the Agenda?
Council candidate Joe Viccica.
What did we learn about the candidates? First of all, they all did their homework. For example, when looking at the proposed “mock development and annexation,” Alexa drove out to the highlighted area, and considered it in light of the General Plan. Joe Viccica measured it out and knew approximately how many acres it would take. He advocated for a traffic study. Steve Blair and Phil Goode brought up the required infrastructure and the potential cost to the taxpayers. Connie Contalme calculated the potential revenue based on the property taxes. Greg Mengarelli suggested a cost-benefits analysis, and quickly reviewed the detailed city policy for the consideration process.
All in all, each candidate brought ideas and demonstrated their strengths, answering the question of whether or not they could effectively serve on council.
Mayoral candidate Greg Mengarelli.