This Past Tuesday, October 23rd, The Shakopee Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum at Shakopee High School that featured two debates, one debate was for State House 55A between State Representative Mike Beard and his DFL challenger Chuck Berg. The other debate was between DFL nominee Kathy Busch and GOP nominee Eric Pratt for the State Senate 55 race, A state senate seat that is now open due to current State Senator Claire Robling who is retiring from the legislature. She was also there at the debates.
The main stories have been on the candidates, but the candidates are only one part of the event. I was a former state senate candidate and state house candidate. I never got the opportunity to be in debates since I was a primary challenger both times. It was my first time at a candidate forum. I arrived about 6:30 pm at the meet and greet before the forum, the first person I find was Kathy Busch, who me and her ran in the primary, this past summer. I conceded to her and gave my full support to her after the primary, She talked to me about her years on the Shakopee School Board and her part on the steering committee to build Shakopee High School.
Then I talked with Chuck Berg, who is the DFL candidate for State House 55A. I asked him about his chances and talked about effects of hyper-partisan politics in electoral process. As, The hour went on State Senator Claire Robling, State Representative Mike Beard and GOP State Senate Candidate Eric Pratt, who I have talked with on several occasions this year. Mayor Brad Tabke of Shakopee showed up and the current editor of Shakopee Patch Andrea Parrott came to the debate to make her news report on the debates. It was the first time, we both meet in person.
One person came to observe the debate was a Ron Paul Supporter. He wore a hoodie showing he was a Ron Paul Delegate and Ron Paul button pin. The forum started at 7 PM, The First Debate was State Rep. Mike Beard and Chuck Berg and The Second Debate was Kathy Busch and Eric Pratt. Both Debates were moderated by Reverend Rob O'Neal of Brookwood Community Church. Both debates had mostly the same questions including some questions from the Shakopee High and Shakopee Junior High Students.
The most common questions in the debates were on the issues of the Marriage Amendment, Voter ID and Education funding. Those issues with the candidates were pretty much covered by the local media before the debate. I heard most positions taken on the issues out of the candidates that the Shakopee Valley News already covered in the candidate questionnaires.
I think the most unique moment in the first debate was State Representative Mike Beard told the audience about a Hennepin County lawsuit about same-sex marriage and he believes the courts are trying to redefine marriage. The same court case was featured on a pro-amendment commercial ad. The second outstanding moment came in the second debate when the two candidates were asked about who should pay their fare share of taxes. They had different positions on tax the upper 2% of Minnesotans, but they both agreed on taxing online retail sales. It got a reaction from a gentleman next to me who shook his head.
As I sat there through both debates, I wondered in my mind how would I have answered those questions, if I was on the podium instead of those four candidates. The other seat right next to me was empty until late in the first debate when Shakopee Valley News staff writer Shannon Fiecke came in and sat down right next to me. I found in the break between the debates, her story on the debates would be published this Saturday in the Prior Lake American.
More notable people came during the Second Debate. GOP State House 55 Candidate Tony Albright and County Commission Candidate Jerry Kucera. The second debate ended early, so I meet with Kathy Busch's family including her sister, daughter and mother. I talked to her husband for a few minutes. I originally talked with him at the Scott County Fair back in July. I wished every candidate the best of luck in person.
I thought that debate was better than presidential debate that was on TV this year. I thought all candidates did their best in their debates, now, It is time for the people of Scott County to decided at the polls on November 6th.