By: BRENDAN MCDANIEL
The Nov. 6 midterm elections are just around the corner. On that date, many Americans will be traveling to their polling places to cast their vote for who will make the laws and regulations that govern this country for the next two to six years, and will be the first election in one of the nation’s strangest political atmospheres in recent memory.
As those who wished to inform themselves about their soon-to-be local legislators moved into Wiekamp Hall on Tuesday for the City Council District C and H debates, the reaction of voters could not be more underwhelming.
As the first debate began, and City Council District-C Candidates Cindy Kilgore (D) and Richard Pfeil (R) settled in to their podiums, it became apparent that these lower level debates would be vastly unlike the flashy verbal assaults of the 2016 debates between Clinton and Trump.
“I think that if you came here tonight to hear fireworks, or watch us tear each other’s heads off, you’re going to be disappointed,” said Kilgore.
Of the 14 questions asked of the two, ranging from their support of public green spaces to their plans for dealing with the Midwest Opioid Crisis, Kilgore and Pfeil had largely similar, if not shared, viewpoints on the subjects.
Kilgore’s approach to her major topics, such as crime, opioids and health education, primarily considered strengthening law enforcement and the health department to be the most effective way to manage the city. She drew on her background as a police officer and volunteer work with the Center for Hospice Care. Her most common response to issues regarding crime, needle exchange programs and energy saving was some variation of increasing governmental support for these two organizations, allowing as many specialized professionals to lead the way as possible.
It’s an “all hands on deck” situation, repeated Kilgore when describing the opioid crisis. Meanwhile, Pfeil’s background as a businessman informed his belief in innovation as a means of resolving Michiana’s troubles.
“Better answers to old problems,” said Pfeil, when asked about his first priority as a candidate.
In practice, this belief amounted to plans such as establishing health education in schools from kindergarten onwards, resolving the commonly outdated and inefficient behaviors of Michiana’s 9-1-1 dispatch, and cutting costs of operations for the Council by constantly improving the methods by which it works.
What made these two candidates different was most often the way they would approach the problems facing Michiana, as opposed to the difference in solutions seen in the national level candidates.
This calm and collected tone carried over into the District H debate between Joe Canarecci (D) and Brian Pawlowski (R). Canarecci’s platform was largely similar to Kilgore’s, if only a touch less laser-focused on law enforcement and the health department.
Pawlowski, meanwhile, was largely directed towards a classic Republican small government approach; his approach to the city council would consist of working alongside non-profit organizations in Michiana to tackle the individual issue that each organization specialized in. For example, when asked how he would handle the opioid crisis, he stated that he would work with local drug rehabilitation organizations to keep users out of prison.
But the most poignant question asked of District H was in regards to the effect of the national political scene, namely, the 2016 election and the current administration, on local level politics. Both Canarecci and Pawlowski sold themselves on being a reaction to the national scene.
For Canarecci, it was important to take a stand and get involved now more than ever.
“I think today, in this environment, if you continue to call yourself a Republican, you’re making yourself complicit with some really terrible behavior,” said Canarecci, who was soon cut off by outcry from the crowd.
For Pawlowski, it was important that people inform themselves instead of voting along a single party ticket.
His closing statement echoed this idea, providing a chilling condemnation of America’s current political attitude; “We get the politicians we deserve.”