That was a political booster shot right when it was needed.
The candidate forum Tuesday night in Coeur d’Alene accomplished two valuable things. One, it very clearly showed not just where Kootenai County-based candidates for the Idaho Legislature differ, but what they have in common.
For the former, members of the audience, readers of this newspaper and viewers of cable TV and streams on social media were drawn very clear pictures of which candidates they most align with. And on the latter, it was clear that every person occupying hot seats on the Coeur d’Alene Library Community Room stage was there believing he or she can competently serve their constituents.
Their visions of what Idaho should be differed; their determination to make it better was universal.
As encouraging as the candidates’ performances were, perhaps even more inspiring was the audience. Engaged and civilized, the standing-room-only crowd was comprised of young and old, with plenty in between. More than one of the candidates noted that it was the most respectful, pleasant audience at a political forum or debate in recent memory. Agreed.
For years, candidate forums have been in decline locally. With all the effort that’s required to find appropriate dates and venues, communicate with participants and then stage the events, most groups and organizations have decided it’s not worth it to attract a few dozen potential voters. But Tuesday night was a refreshing reminder that might no longer be the case.
The forum was streamed live to several internet sites, and the potential for far greater distribution is both immediate and fairly easy to accomplish. That forums can be rebroadcast on local municipal cable channels broadens the prospective audience further.
With the tremendous cooperation of people like the City of Coeur d’Alene’s Renata McLeod, City Councilman Woody McEvers and CDA-TV’s Jeff Crowe, The Press intends to sponsor more forums going forward. Of course you can watch them on your screen and read about them in the newspaper, but Tuesday night was proof that it’s still best soaking in valuable information in fellowship with your fellow citizens, those who agree with your politics and yes, those who don’t. That’s a pretty picture of what democracy can still look like.