The 9/11 Patriot Day Debates event, created to generate voter interest by giving people a chance to see and hear from the candidates themselves, is set for this Thursday, from 1:00 p.m. till all have spoken — we’re estimating about 9:00 p.m. or so — in the Bel Air Room, upstairs at the Golden Nugget. Everyone knows that it is far too easy for a candidate seeking political office to hide behind billboards and electronic devices and imagery. Debates, it is fair to say, are hard for many people whether due to “stage fright” from lack of public speaking or some other reason, or from realizing or believing that one is just not a good public speaker; obviously neither of those reasons will be helpful or acceptable for a person seeking public office. When candidates have to talk about themselves, defending their thoughts, beliefs, ideas and values, that is when voters get to know much more about the individuals for whom they are planning to vote, and also about the person they’ll be voting against. Knowledge about each of them will either reinforce their choice, or persuade them otherwise. Politicians who shy away from a public debate with any opponents who have challenged them may not be cowards — convincing themselves there are good reasons to decline — but they will be perceived by the public as less than open and less than courageous. Larry Burns has been trying to get Joe Lombardo to debate him since before the Primary elections, and the Under-Sheriff will not step up. We wonder who would want a scaredy-cat sheriff who is afraid of a debate. People can only imagine that he has something to hide — whether he does or not, and whether he is scared or not. He may just not be sure of himself, or believes he would not look good in that kind of setting. Reality tells us if someone is running for public office and expects to represent other people, that candidate needs to do everything possible associated with that job. It is an honor to be an elected public servant; it means that more voters believe in you than don’t. When you are elected you become a paid taskmaster who is trusted to deliver. Anyone can smile in a commercial, or in a photo-op with people in bad situations and carefully put up posters. Public office, however, is about honor and conviction: honor in your actions and conviction in the words you use to speak to the people who come to see you in a debate or at your office after you win. Your words will represent you, but your actions will tell people who you really are. Candidates that want to be known must talk to the people they will represent whenever the opportunity arises. The 9/11 Patriot Day Debates were created for the voters so they will have the opportunity to see the candidates in person, hear what they have to say, and observe how they respond to the questions. This event started out at The D Casino, but as it grew, it moved (with the help of The D) to The Golden Nugget. Matt Shevlin, the Convention Services Manager at The Golden Nugget, welcomed us and made the transition very smooth. The whole staff at The Las Vegas Tribune appreciates all the help we’ve gotten and are still receiving from The Golden Nugget. From the start we knew that establishing a debate format for Clark County and Nevada candidates would not be easy, but we have debates taking place in Clark County now with a number of different organizations. Our goal was to engage the public to the fullest extent possible among all those groups. Over 30 candidates have signed up for the 9/11 Debates; not all the candidates will have their opposition match to debate, but those who show up will be that much better known come election time since each candidate will have the mic and be able to let the voters get to know them. Let’s show the candidates that we care and show up to hear what they have to say. Thursday, 1:00 p.m. the Bel Air Room, upstairs at the Golden Nugget, on Fremont Street. Bring a friend. See you there!
By John Thomas