Candidates for Hathian’s March 27-29 election gathered at Columtreal University for a Town Hall-style debate. Held at 3PM, the “Question the Candidates” event was sponsored by Columtreal University and organized by Dean Jack Inkpen. The event was open to all parties and tickets. It was attended by three mayoral candidates and four council candidates.
The debate format, Town Hall, meant that the audience put questions to the candidates directly. Unlike the typical town hall event, Question the Candidates did not involve pre-selection of the audience. Tonight’s crowd was composed mostly of Columtreal University students, Hathian Police Department officials and local celebrities like Natalie “Red” Naybeck.
In the Hathian mayoral race, the poll-leading candidate Rabid Calhern of the Hope for Hathian campaign was present, as was Karn Nevelle and Rachell Vond-Washborne. Among the city council candidates were Calhern’s running mate, Professor Paige Davenport of the Hope for Hathian campaign, Nevelle’s running mate, Doctor Grace Johnson, Perina McGinnis and Inara Shen.
Dean Inkpen began the event by introducing the Hope for Hathian campaign candidates, Calhern and Davenport, and repeating his endorsement of them and their policies.
The first question from the audience was by a young woman who questioned whether marijuana legalization would lead to negative effects for the community. Most candidates expressed a position that supported legalization and lighter sentencing for marijuana-related crimes. Rachell Vond-Washborne did not express any position. These pro-legalization statements didn’t satisfy the student, who expressed to this reporter and the crowd, “I still maintain that you are only adding fuel to the fire with this platform stance. Drug use is a slippery slope…But I can see I’m not about to convince anyone.”
The next question came from Janey Hopkins, Columtreal University student, who asked, “With the HPD’s less than proper actions becoming more and more prevalent not only in the city, but now on the Internet, what do each of you plan to handle corruption and brutality within the HPD?”
Candidate Davenport answered first and described her plan for an Oversight Committee composed of members appointed by each of the city council members and approved by council majority vote. “I have known many heroes in the force,” she said. “I have worked with them…But we must be honest. There are monsters on the HPD. And the saddest thing is that, to be a police officer and to try to do good in this town means having to put up with these monsters. To play the game… The games are done when the Hope for Hathian ticket is elected. The first thing we will do, as a council, is to institute a committee for oversight of the HPD – top to bottom, all its records and on the streets.”
Vond-Washborne addressed Davenport’s position with a modified plan involving the municipal services watching over one another. “HPD working hand in hand with HGH, with FDH. Simply put, each organization would hold the other accountable.” McGinnis believed no oversight was needed, favoring the current arrangement coupled with a recognition program that would award valiant officers. “Brutality sucks, but they’ve just shown us over the last few days that officers are being reprimanded for their crimes, so there’s some hope” and candidate Shen took a similar approach, urging self-policing.
The most contentious issue of the debate was the decriminalization of prostitution, asked by Blue Handrick of the Titty Twister. “What’s your stance regarding the legal status of prostitution, and about affordable health programs and free contraception and free abortions for our working girls?”
Council candidate Davenport was first to answer, taking a similarly bold stance. “We are immediately going to find a way to provide legal, safe prostitution. Case closed on that…We can begin with the brothel systems like in Nevada: Find a business that can work with us and begin the brothel there.”
McGinnis’ reply declined to stand for legalization, but urged sex workers to work and seek medical treatment in safe environments. “Finding safe ways for these girls to work and get tested is very important. I think working with both HGH and the Clinic here on campus, we can develop safe haven type of policies so that these girls aren’t reported to the police when seeking out treatment.”
Doctor Grace Johnson urged greater availability for contraception and STD testing, while commenting on legalization, “Las Vegas seems to have implemented it while being rather notorious for it. Why not Hathian?” Shen said, “I agree with Grace and Peri as to how to go about it, and assist in making it safer.”
The debate become somewhat argumentative as Davenport claimed that the other candidates were now “on her side” and cited the policy she laid out in the February 24 article on H-Zine. Candidates Shen, Johnson and McGinnis responded by talking of being united, but did not state how they disagreed with Davenport. Mayoral candidate Vond-Washborne did not support legalization, but did emphasize the importance of offering sex workers treatment for STDs.
Discussion strayed from the issues at that point as council candidate McGinnis accused Davenport of having “a colorful history,” and Davenport countered by stating, “We all have a colorful history, Ms. McGinnis…If people judged on that basis in Hathian, nothing would ever get done and nobody would get along.”
Reaction to the debate was mixed. The young lady who inquired about marijuana legalization’s negative collateral effects inquired if Captain Jeremiah Xuanzang of HPD were running for office, suggesting her choice would be for him instead. Natalie Naybeck commented, “I’m thinking right now that Miss Davenport is the only one who’s got a strong voice.”