Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Debate

Due to an earlier meeting and the absence of parking once I got to Widener, I tuned into the Overtown Express USTREAM broadcast of the mayor and council debate at home, which also afforded me the opportunity to watch game 6 of the World Series from the beginning.

Although the broadcast was challenged with a lot of ‘off air’ moments, I applaud the team that made it possible for close to 40 people to tune in to at least a portion of the debate from their computers.

As expected, the room was standing room only and there were red shirts on one side and blue shirts on the other scattered among the crowd.

Dray Clark did an outstanding job moderating, asking questions, seeking clarification, and controlling the crowd.

Here’s an abbreviated recap of what was shared by the candidates by topic.

 Mayor’s Debate

Improving job opportunities
Linder – Improve skills. Create sustainable jobs.
Butler – Continue Chester’s economic revitalization.

The end Act 47
Butler – His administration has conducted a 6 year plan that puts Chester in a position to get out from under Act 47.
Linder – Agree.

Linder – Chester was ranked high on the index of qualifications required to be selected for SC2.
Butler – The SC2 team is already on the street working with his administration.

Will taxes need to be raised?
Linder – Applauds that Chester have not raised taxes.
Butler – Has no plans to raise taxes.

Super Market
Butler – The city has offered all types of incentives but there still needs to be a developer who agrees to build a supermarket.
Linder – Feels there has been a lot of political posturing and will make a super market one of his first goals.

Linder – He knows how to get these kids to learn.
Butler - They need a superintendent to drive change.  He gets blamed for the school district problems but has no oversight over the schools or housing authority

City seeking grants for teachers
Butler – Have not applied for any. Would be willing to seek grants. Has found $4million for DCCC sponsorship which has increased Chester enrollment by 50%.
Linder –  Agreed with mayor before going ‘off air’.

County funding to the city
Linder – Seeks to make the county more accountable to funding Chester.
Butler – Unlike in the past, county money is divided between jurisdictions. Seeks Chester get full share again.
Linder – Agreed. We must show our worth.

Why PPL & Harrahs get tax credit
Butler - They were built in the Keystone Opportunity Zones then went ‘off air’.
Linder – ‘Off air’

The Billboard
Butler – Was created based on the city’s excitement on being selection as a SC2 city.
Linder – Adding President Obama to the billboard is deceptive.

Linder – We need to do everything we can to help the police. The city is in a cycle of social failure.
Butler – Getting out of ACT 47 will allow Chester to get more cops.

Reducing unsolved gun homicides
Butler – Need witnesses to testify and cooperate with investigators.
Linder – ‘Off air’

Closing Statement
Butler – If you are happy with his list of achievements and proud of the accomplishments they’ve had, vote for him.
Linder – If you are tired of murders, Harrah’s, schools, want infrastructure and skills vote for him. He can do what the mayor did and more. He has resources  and  connections.

Council Debate

Crime and Job
Garner – Mentor young people.
Nichols – Crime agree with Shep.  Jobs  – educate and bring things to Chester.
Woodland – Manage emotions and intervene. Become entrepreneurs.

What qualifies you?
Williams – 45 years of experience in insurance industry, 25 years in management. Knows how to lead, serve, and work from her Fortune 500 experience.
Shep – Has been a voice of the community. Has financial experience in city and corporate structure. Only candidate with a finance background.
Nichols – Community worker. Has worked in public sector. ‘Off air’.

Woodland – Establish partnerships and collaborations. Training. Education. Help businesses buy into the waterway.
Williams – Has put many welfare-to-work people in jobs. City has to be more friendly to business. Demand they give jobs and co-op opportunities.
Garner – Don’t demand, negotiate. Influence companies.  

Reducing crime and murder
Nichols – Residents, police, government, and business must come together. Determine root causes and plan accordingly. ‘Off Air’
Noland – ‘Off Air’
Williams – Parents need to check on the guns in the home. ‘Off Air’

Witness Protection program
Shep – ‘Off Air’
Nichols – Has relationships with county, state, and national level and will have conversations with them.

Williams – Restructure school district and prepare students better.
Noland – Parents have to be active in the schools. Education starts before they get to school.

Williams – Will serve 110%. ‘Off air’
Noland – Serves on a lot of Boards. Current administration has 24 years of combined experience. Democrats only 2 years.
Garner – Do your own investigation. Strip the label of Democrats and Republicans. Look at what Republicans has accomplished.
Nichols – Invite people to the decision making process. ‘Off Air’


  1. I also applaud the effort by Overtown Express. Seeing that I am no longer a resident and am about 40 miles (with a toll) away, attending the debate is difficult yet I am certainly interested in the outcome.

    Though there were some technical difficulties, I feel this was a great step in the right direction. The backers of the debate should take notice of what OE has done for the citizens rather than ensure they are properly credited.

  2. Real weak, but it's a start.

  3. To BLKBAM. With all those sponsors, you'd think someone would have had the presence of mind to demand that it be broadcasted on the city's public broadcast station so most Chester folks could view. Of course that would have excluded you because of where you live, and me because I don't have comcast. So, USTREAM was the answer.

  4. 40 thousand people in the city and the debate is held in a venue that holds 265 people Priceless.

  5. The space was donated without regard for audience size. I hear that a lot of people were turned away.

    The Chester High auditorium holds 500ish. That would have been a nice space but who knows what the school district rents that out for.

  6. With all due respect to anonymous, organize your own debate next time to ensure that it's strong. Young brothers organized the debate. It was their first time and they did a great job considering they had no previous experience. Many could not get in because they arrived late as is often the case with Chester events. People under estimated who was going to show up. Yes, the venue could've been bigger but Widener was willing to work with the organizers. Lets focus on the positive aspect that someone put forth the effort to sponsor a debate.

  7. Any access outside of that room is beneficial. We all have the same point in that if the target audience of the campaign is the city residences and the debate is only accessible (without journalistic interpretation) to less than 1% of the people, how can the citizens themselves say they are making informed decisions?

    hmmm...Look for me to run on that platform next race: BLKBAM for Mayor - Access for the people!

  8. I drove by at 6:45 and they were turning folks away.

    What do you consider late?

  9. I have been to past debates at that event and the room maybe had 20 people in it so the organizers could not have forecasted the turn out the had that night.
    I would like to see better screening of the questions. If the question is a duplicate it should not make it to the moderator. Also if the question does not pertain to the position then it should be eliminated. But it was a good effort and hopefully in the future it will be the interest in the political debates will increase.

    And no 645pm is not late for an event that starts at 7 they should have said it was full to capacity. Alot of people rode around looking for parking and by the time they found it, the place was maxed out.

  10. Damn some people from chester come together and dedicate their own time to make sure that the people of chester could be informed before casting their vote so that its not cast blindly or for the wrong reason and all I see is a bunch of negative comments cause of parking and inadequate space at the venue with the exception of one person. Horrible!

  11. The reality is many people started arriving for that debate at 5. If you looked around many of the seats were occupied by people from both campaigns. The only solution is a bigger venue but when you're a grass roots group, you work with what you have. Widener was generous in offering the hall with technical staff. Also, many people thought no one would show up because no one cared. Wrong!!!! It was a overall healthy presentation minus the minor issues. Also, I'm not sure if you can use Chester High School for that kind of political events. There maybe rules or state laws against that???