On Oct. 25, We Tackle the Future at Rollins (WTF Rollins) hosted what was supposed to be a debate between Orange County mayoral candidates Bill Segal and Teresa Jacobs on many issues facing the people of Orange County.
Yet even before both candidates had shown up, there were already major disruptions that would almost jeopardize the event as a whole. The big issue began when news came out that Segal’s brother was in the hospital. In place of Segal, Josh Wilson, a spokesperson for the candidate, would take his place, as he knew all of Segal’s positions and talking points.
Jacobs, though, would have none of this. She told event organizers that she would not participate in such a debate. If she says something disparaging within the debate, all accountability of the statement goes upon her shoulders, whereas if Wilson were to do the same, Segal could claim that those were not his words.
So WTF decided to change the format to, instead, change the debate into a forum-style setup, where each candidate/ spokesperson would get up, give a one-minute opener, spend 20 minutes answering the nine questions that were to have been asked as a part of the debate, and a brief closing statement to top off their turn.
After spending what was supposed to be the meet-and-greet time deciding on this new format and which candidate would go first (Jacobs insisted that the Segal camp speak first, yet WTF, being a non-partisan political activism organization, determined that a coin toss was the only fair method, which Segal’s campaign won), Jacobs went up first, followed by Wilson, to discuss the candidates’ positions on issues.
They did agree on some things, including a vote “no” on Amendment Four and promises to lower toll costs and not raise property taxes. They did, however, disagree on other issues, such as Segal’s fi rm guarantee on raising no taxes—be they affecting public safety or funding the Sun Rail via tax increases to the LYNX bus service—as opposed to Jacobs’ lack of an explicit anti-tax stance. Either way, most people would agree that much of the information could have been found on each candidate’s website, and the point of the original intent of the night was to see some clash and show how each person could handle themselves under the pressure of the spotlight of their ideas by their respective opponents.
Much credit must be given to WTF and the way they handled the situation as to find a solution that appeased both candidates and their representatives.