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    Saturday, November 26, 2022

    Be a spectator, in the best sense of the word, in upcoming Congressional debate

    We’re pinning down the details of the October 12 Second District Congressional debate hosted by The Day, WFSB News 3 and The Garde Arts Center.

    Tickets for the free event are available at The Garde’s box office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Theater doors open at 6, and nobody will be allowed in the seating area after 6:45 p.m. The debate begins at 7 p.m. and is expected to last about an hour.

    Three of the four candidates on the ballot have agreed to debate: Democratic incumbent Joe Courtney, Green Party candidate Kevin Blacker and Republican Mike France.

    We invited the Libertarian candidate, William Hall, to take part, but he declined, ʽrespectfully,ʻ by email on Sept. 16, writing, “While I am very knowledgeable and passionate about state politics, to present myself as a true federal candidate would be disingenuous. I am running strictly in an attempt to maintain our (minor) party's ballot access in this district. I do not want to distract from the true race.”

    The Day Executive Editor Tim Cotter is moderating, and three journalists will ask questions: The Day’s legislative reporter, Sten Spinella, WFSB chief political reporter Susan Raff; and Mark Pazniokas, capitol bureau chief for the CT Mirror.

    The details are numerous, but as Joanne Moore, co-president of the League of Women Voters, reminded us recently, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.” (The saying is credited to Lotte Scharfman, a refugee who escaped from Austria during World War II and spent her life helping citizens gain access to government.)

    Helping the public gaining access to government is part of our mission, and we’re inviting you to help out too. First: You actually can be a spectator, in the best sense of the word, by attending the debate, or watching it livestreamed on The Day’s and WFSB’s websites.

    Secondly, you also can participate by proposing questions you’d like our panelists to ask the candidates. They should be issue-focused and solicit responses beyond “yes” or “no.” Email them to k.florin@theday.com with DEBATE QUESTIONS in the subject line or drop them in the comments below.

    Jeanne and Steve Sigel from The Garde have been invaluable as some of us at The Day got involved with debate planning for the first time. They guided us as we organized a meeting of the parties to set ground rules, arranged for the tickets to be printed and even made provisions for a “spin room” where members of the press can interview the candidates after the debate.

    The League of Women Voters will be the timekeepers at the event, and Moore has helped us set the format. Candidates each will get a total of 90 seconds to answer questions, and will lose some of that time in the event of any disruption from their supporters in the theater.

    The candidates or their reps picked numbers to determine who would go first and where they would stand on the stage, and The Garde staff helped us figure out the lighting.

    There’s still a couple of details to work, but what we need most is some active spectators.

    This is the opinion of Karen Florin, engagement editor. She can be reached at k.florin@theday.com.

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.