A steady stream of visitors entered Fairfield’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts in anticipation of the gubernatorial debate between Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dan Malloy on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 19, 2010. The one-hour live televised debate was aired by local news channels WFSB, CPTV, and WNPR. Dennis House, Eyewitness News anchor, and John Dankosky, WNPR news director, served as the moderators.
Rev. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J. opened the event by welcoming students, faculty, and community members. He noted that the importance of dialogue during the election is crucial. Like college, the election is about exploring the big questions, complex ideas, and limitless possibilities. Fairfield University is proud to host this debate.
Each candidate was given 2 minutes to answer each question presented by the moderators, followed by a 30-second rebuttal after both candidates had spoken. Rose, a community member who wished to remain anonymous, observed that “both candidates were right at the gate and ready to reply.” Even though she strongly supports Malloy, she felt that both candidates answered eloquently.
The debate questions covered a range of topics including healthcare, education, taxes, and the state budget. The candidates clashed on many occasions and continually challenged each other’s answers.
One topic that was heavily debated was education standards in the state of Connecticut and the necessary efforts needed to narrow the achievement gap.
Foley, a business owner, supports choice in public schools, assessment of teachers, and the opportunity for professional development. In order to guarantee that the children of Connecticut receive quality education, he believes that the state should have the ability to grade public schools and to step in if necessary. In addition, Foley wants to institute a final exam requirement for high school students to graduate. This measure will guarantee that individuals have the necessary skills to perform in the workforce.
In response, Malloy, former Mayor of Stamford focused on early childhood learning, especially reading and math skills. He emphasized universal daycare, more time spent in the classroom, and the importance of charter schools, two of which he sponsored during his time as Mayor. Malloy also believes that resources should be more effectively allocated to the public and community colleges, so that a more educated and well-trained workforce in Connecticut will attract business growth.
The debate allowed voters to get to know the issues and where the candidates who will be appearing on the ballots Tuesday, November 2nd stand. Audience member Tricia, a Foley supporter who also wished to remain anonymous, said, “The dialogue between the candidates reaffirmed decision to vote for Foley. His business experience and position on many of the topics give me hope that Connecticut will be on the path towards recovery if he is elected.”
As a student attending my first official political debate, I was not sure what to expect. I was amazed at the range of issues covered by the debate questions. It was interesting to hear how the candidates grappled with each topic, especially because their individual approaches greatly diverged. Attending this debate stressed of not only the significance of voting but also the importance being informed about current issues and the candidate’s platforms.
For college students looking to vote in the local elections on Nov. 2, “Declare Yourself” here.
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