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Monday, October 18, 2021
Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: The need for speed, political-style

Editor’s Notebook: The need for speed, political-style

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When it came to Arlington County Board candidate forums this month, the Arlington Committee of 100 and the Arlington County Civic Federation took different tacks.

Not necessarily better or worse than the other. Just different.

Specifically, this week’s Civic Federation debate among the fearsome foursome vying for office had a much more whirlwind pacing, with each candidate given less time to answer questions. It was like the political version of speed-dating.

How’d it go? Candidate Adam Theo was one who didn’t care for it. In his closing statement [which we report on HERE], Theo said he hoped future debates would allow “more time and a better format” for candidates to discuss issues.

And that concern about the speed is true, to an extent. But it’s also true that a candidate should be able to explain his/her positions in the time frame allowed, whether a minute or (lordy lordy please never let this happen) ten minutes. Several times, candidates (not just in the County Board portion) got a slow start to their answers and were cut off before they got to the gist of what they had to say.

If one tuned in for both the Committee of 100 and Civic Federation forums, one got a decent look at the candidates for County Board. In each case, incumbent Democrat Takis Karantonis held his own, meaning he probably will have not problems running out the clock to Election Day. But we’ll see.

SPEAKING OF TIME CLOCKS: It’s not often I defend School Boards, but let me weigh in on the proposal by the one in Prince William County.

That body has proposed reducing, from three minutes to two, the amount of time speakers from the public have to opine on any given topic.

Of course we all know why: In Prince William, like in some other local jurisdictions, the public is (often rightfully) hacked off by out-of-touch elected officials and their increasingly loopy policies, and has started show up to voice that discontent. Those in elected office who happen to have fascist tendencies do not like this turn of events one bit.

However, in this instance I’m going to side with the School Board. If you can make your point in three minutes, you can surely hone it down to two. In fact, with some practice beforehand, a sharp two-minute speech is far stronger and will have more impact.

Bet the School Board members didn’t consider that when they embarked on this proposal. Well, “noodling it through” is not always the hallmark of those in said elected office.

– Scott McCaffrey

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