Commentary | Some notes on candidate forums

Published 1:23 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018

I want to share a few comments about the recent candidate forum in Clark County, especially the second session held May 2.

First, a thanks to those who sponsored the forum, those who broadcast it and worked to make it available to as many as possible, and to those who volunteered their services during the forum.

The major surprise of the evening had to have been state Rep. Donna Mayfield’s withdrawal from the race for the Republican nomination for 73rd district state representative.

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Her stated comments revealed the caustic atmosphere within politics has become unbearable. She even described bullying and threats, none of which are not acceptable norms in a political environment.

It is perfectly appropriate to question, discuss and rebut positions taken by those in office, but tactics of intimidation cannot and must not be tolerated.

Mayfield has been an able campaigner, and those who elected her to more than one term in the state legislature undoubtedly feel she has done an admirable job on their behalf.

Those who disagree with her policies have a different opinion, but there will never be unanimity regarding a politician’s positions and such a difference of opinion can never be used as an excuse for bullying.

Her departure under the circumstances described by her is regrettable.

A second notable moment during the evening’s forum was when candidate Geoff Young, running for the Democrat nomination for the 6th district representative, used part of his two-minute opening statement to refer to fellow candidate Amy McGrath as a “war criminal.”

He made this crude reference not once, but twice and he finished his opening remarks without applause from an audience which was obviously appalled by his comments.

It was heartening to hear the other three candidates on the stage refute Young’s comments and commend McGrath for her 24 years of dedicated service to this country.

At the end of the question and answer portion of the program, and as the candidates were leaving the stage, McGrath graciously turned to Young and extended her hand to shake his.

A careful watch of the action certainly made it look as though Young was even reluctant to shake her hand and, as she proceeded to make some remarks to him, he walked by her and exited the stage.

McGrath conducted herself with unmitigated grace and aplomb and endured with composure the despicable remarks of Young.

A couple of additional notes on the forum:

One additional candidate for the Democrat nomination for 6th district congressman, Reggie Thomas, was not present. Perhaps he had another appointment which kept him away. Perhaps he just feels more comfortable in Lexington, where constituents know him better. Being better known in Lexington did not keep candidate Jim Gray away.

Another notable absence from the forum was U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, who was invited to attend but declined. Barr’s actions during his tenure have demonstrate he is much more comfortable in meetings at which he can expect a more sympathetic crowd, one which supports his positions.

These forums are planned weeks in advance and are an important part of keeping the citizens of Clark County advised of candidates’ positions.

Those who decline to attend can easily be assumed to have positions which are antithetical to the expectations of the citizenry or a disregard of the importance of making those positions known.

The upcoming voting this year may demonstrate how important the voters consider participation to be.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at