League member Max Beckman-Harned taped the Moderator training session held Feb. 8 in Sunnyvale. The June and November election seasons are coming up fast. About 25 League members from the five Santa Clara County Leagues participated — brushing up their skills or learning the requirements for the first time. Besides offering a detailed review of the guidelines, scripts, and logistics of producing a candidate forum, the training included a fun and funny “mock” candidate forum complete with audience disruptions and candidate boorishness!
members throng to mock candidate forum
An Enactment of Uncivil Behavior
The 3 mock candidates were played by Cathy Lazarus, Jackie Kansy and Crownie Billik. The moderator role was played by Ellen Wheeler also of LWVLAMV. Three questions were concocted to set up the enactment of a variety of uncivil behaviors that can occur during a forum, but thankfully almost always don’t—
- In her opening statement, candidate Lazarus committed the faux pas of directly comparing her “superior qualifications” vs. those of her opponents, saying she was the “best” candidate
- Candidate Billik retorted dismissively that those were the qualifications of “staff”
- Candidate Kansky kept telling the audience to go and pick up her campaign literature outside the room
- Audience members held up signs, both pro and con specific candidates; there was booing and cheering
- An audience member loudly objected to having her question – which was directed at just one specific candidate – heavily edited by the League so that it would to apply to all the candidates.
The mock moderator demonstrated how to calmly, politely and firmly intervene and handle such breaches of civility and even outright disruptions.
Ellen Wheeler closed the mock candidate forum saying,” I hope your forums are perfectly smooth, as so many are…and that zero of these kinds of incidents occur during your forum. Good luck!”
Video Doubles the Total Forum Audience
Max Beckman-Harned was practicing his “field video” skills at the training in order to be prepared for the election season. Most of our local leagues are blessed to have local access channels which will tape and often livestream or broadcast the most significant candidate forums. But a volunteer group of videographers is forming to tape the forums the access channel won’t. Contact Max Beckman-Harned. [email protected]