I was approached by one of the other candidates running against me for Township Committee and asked about participating in a debate/forum. I was provided no details or any parameters regarding what that debate would look like other than that it would be sponsored by the League of Women Voters. I wondered why we would need to participate in a debate for a local position. Of course, that is not to say that a debate may not be useful, per se. On the County and State levels, it may be the only opportunity for voters from different geographic areas to see and hear from a candidate. But I am not running for a position that requires me to make myself available to people that live in various municipalities far away from me and each other. My candidacy literally requires me to make myself available to my neighbors. I can do that without a debate but my competitive side prompted me to investigate the debate question further. While I contemplated my response, I took the opportunity to attend the Somerset County candidates’ debate/forum in Somerville to see what it was all about. After seeing what the debate/forum format entailed, I now have come to the conclusion that the format, at least as currently administered, is not conducive to learning very much about a candidate. On the contrary, it may provide for more misinformation, rather than true information or information that would be helpful to Warren voters. The time to answer questions is limited and does not lend itself to a meaningful explanation or analysis
of the candidates’ positions on relevant issues. This is a disadvantage for anyone who actually knows what they are talking about and would like the opportunity to fully explain their position. This also disadvantages voters who are not hearing the whole story. There is also little opportunity for rebuttal, which allows hyperbolic or misinformed statements to stand unchallenged. In addition, questions coming from the candidates to each other and questions from the audience are not limited to issues relating to the position being sought. Issues at our local level are different from those at the County and State levels and remarkably different from those at the Federal level. Beside distracting the voters’ focus from pertinent issues of the position being sought, these types of questions are only good for instigating a response that will create a one-sided, out of context, political soundbite for use in future advertising by the opposing side. I question the point of such an exercise (except to get the soundbite of course!). The voters have a right and should want to get to know who they are voting for, unfortunately, the debate format that I observed is not very useful for that purpose.
There are other, better ways to get to get the message out and nothing beats meeting the candidate. I have attended a variety of meetings and gatherings around Town with voters, from smaller coffee meetings and gatherings at voters homes, to large events at local establishments. I have also walked various neighborhoods (including with my dog) and have spoken with individuals and groups of people who reached out and wanted to get to know me. I have been interviewed for a newspaper article and I will post it as soon as it is published. As a sitting Township Committee member, I attend Township Committee meetings, which are public and recorded and which clearly show my position on the issues facing our Town. I have a website and social media presence through which I regularly post information and reach out to residents and which has multiple ways for residents to reach me, including by email and phone. I encourage anyone who wishes to discuss my candidacy to contact me in any of these ways, and I will answer any questions at length. My positions are out there; I am an open book; and I continue to reach out to Warren residents through these varied and multiple ways. I have found this to be both rewarding and effective, and I question how the type of debate I witnessed in
Somerville will provide better information about me and my candidacy to the Warren residents than my current efforts.
I certainly would never say, never, to a debate if the format were different, but I have not seen a proposal from the other candidates, other than the one general inquiry referenced above, that would provide meaningful and helpful information to
our residents better than my efforts so far. It would seem to me that the residents would be better served if all the candidates spent their time doing what I have been doing and actually meeting and talking to residents. To my delight, I have received tremendous positive responses from people of varying political persuasions and those who choose to
remain unaffiliated. My efforts are designed to reach all of our residents, regardless of affiliation, as they are the ones I serve and would continue to serve, if elected, in November. If anyone has any questions, at any time, regarding my candidacy or would like to sponsor a “meet the candidate” event at a home or other location (how about one of our local businesses – give me a date and time!!) please contact me via the “contact me” page on this website or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paid for by Maziarz for Warren Twp Committee, 79 Mount Horeb Rd, Warren, NJ 07059