In an unlikely event sponsored by a partisan moderator, candidates showed that civility, recently missing in Salida city government, is possible. A candidate’s forum was held at the Salida Community Center on Friday, October 20, 2017. The moderator was on the campaign staff of the incumbent mayor who is running for reelection with a block of former and current council members. All candidates and the public were invited to attend and participate. Two opponents of the sponsoring candidates, one for mayor and one for city council, attended and joined the panel, while a few dozen citizens were in the audience.
The moderator started the event by alluding to recent sessions of City Council. In one those sessions, Councilwoman Eileen Rogers had been silenced by the incumbent mayor. In a subsequent session, the mayor suspended rules of decorum, whereupon retiring incumbent councilman Hal Brown cited the rule suspension in his defense when he was called upon for making “personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks” against Councilwoman Rogers that would have violated the suspended rule.
As the moderator continued with her remarks, the audience began to speak up, asking in essence that they hear from the candidates about issues rather than listen to the moderator’s agenda. Some in the audience became a little loud as the moderator continued. At that point, the challenging mayoral candidate, even though in a potentially hostile environment sponsored by his opponents, essentially took charge of the situation, quieted the audience and redirected the discussion to substantive issues. The two hour event then proceed with the candidates engaging in polite dialog addressing issues led by questions from the audience. This was in dramatic contrast to the two previous city council meetings, one of October 3, 2017 and one of October 17, 2017 (YouTube Video @ 1:13:30 to 2:08:00), over which the mayor presided.
The candidate forum was recorded on video by its sponsors. If the video is made public in it’s entirety and unedited, it should be watched by all as an example of how civility can be restored to Salida’s government.