Pattye Benson

Community Matters

PA State House 157 Race — No further comments accepted for candidate question #3!

No further comments will be accepted in response to candidate question #3.

In August, when I approached State House 157 candidates about a candidate forum, I envisioned a much different outcome than has evolved. I designed thoughtful, engaging questions that I thought would be representative of important issues to this community. I stated that I would not edit the candidate’s responses, and as moderator, I would not weigh in with my opinion. Presumably seeing no value in this process, candidate Warren Kampf chose not to participate. However, incumbent candidate Paul Drucker returned his responses to my questions. At the time, I questioned whether I should go forward with the Candidate Question and Response forum with Paul’s responses (without Kampf’s participation). Ultimately, I moved ahead with the forum, deciding that Paul Drucker should not be penalized because Warren Kampf declined to participate.

I now recognize that my vision for this candidate forum was naïve. Rather than tolerant, respectful dialogue that discussed the questions and candidate response, I had the task of reading and uploading some of the most negative partisan, personal attacks than I could have imagined. Many comments were not on topic and some remarks lacked civility and respect. It is my opinion that the partisan, negative remarks were evenly distributed between both sides.

Having a strong opinion (from personal experience) on political misinformation and campaign negativity, I have chosen to accept no further comments on candidate question #3. I view negative campaign remarks in a negative light. These comments do not focus on substantive issues or policies but rather tend to focus on personality. This type of negative approach may motivate the base of support of each of the candidates but I think it could also alienate centrist and undecided voters from participating on Election Day – and possibly reduce the low voter turnout even lower.

On Monday, October 11, I will post candidate question #4 and will accept comments. If the comments remain on the question’s topic, I will continue to accept comments until the following Monday.

Thank you.

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  1. Pattye,

    I respect your decision. There is no question that partisan fever can lead to bad behavior. And those of us who are afflicted with it truly believe we are getting out the facts, setting things straight, and yes, properly putting “the other side” in its place.

    As a community blog, I understand your mission is to provide useful information and a forum for discussion to all members of the community. You’d hoped to provide that with a series of Q&A for the 157th candidates.

    I regret that it has played out the way it has.( I don’t exclude myself from the fray). We can only wonder what would have happened if both candidates had provided answers and commenters had responded to the topics at hand.

    Thanks for doing this. Your blog provides a unique service to our community.Going forward, I will try to meet your standards for civility and limit myself to topical responses.

  2. Pattye —

    First, thank you for doing this. I am sure it takes up immeasurable time and it is a valuable service.

    Second, I go back to something I suggested several months ago during the primary: force people to provide proof (citations, links to articles, etc) for claims they make — or don’t post their comments. I think that single requirement alone would help reduce the vitriol and keep the partisan rants to a minimum.

    You also have the power (and it is one you have admitted you are loathe to utlize) to simply not post certain comments — perhaps those that range too far from the topic at hand, include personal attacks (either non-record based on the candidates, or simply attacks on other posters.)

    I enjoyed the early debate on the infrastructure question and the severance tax. It was, for a short time, on-point and a lively, town-hall style give and take. It also included some informative information on the recently passed severance tax. More discussions like that would be great for everyone — and would show a modicum of respect for the hard work you do.

    1. Thank you!
      I applaud (and would be the first to encourage) debate; I think it is how we can all learn from one another. Here’s hoping that the comments will remain on the topic of the post and focused on issues and not personal attacks. I remain hopeful that on Monday when I post question #4 that there can be a respectful discussion.

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