Henry looked frail. Jones and Dominy go at it.
Jim Cooper was a no-show at tonight scheduled candidates forum sponsored by the Haywood Lane Neighborhood Association. The program consisted of three forum segments: one for U. S. House District 5 candidates, incumbent Democrat Jim Cooper and challenger Republican David Hall; one for State Senate District 21 candidates, incumbent Democrat Senator Doug Henry and challenger Republican Steve Dickerson; and State House District 59 candidates, incumbent Democrat Representative Sherry Jones and Republican challenger Councilman Duane Dominy.
Cooper was listed in the announcements as a participant in the forum. The moderator, Councilman Charlie Tygard, said Coooper was absent because he was attending a function raising money for Metro Greenways. The function was a pricey $150 per attendee event called Dinner on the Bridge. The moderator said Cooper had sent word that he may arrive late. He never made it. It is unclear if Cooper had a previous engagement or a preferred engagement. Cooper was listed in the advertisements for Dinner on the Bridge as the Honorary Chairman. It is a shame Cooper could not make this event. I would really like to see Cooper and Hall in a one-on-one debate. There are vast differences between these two candidates.
David Hall was well received and delivered a message of smaller government, less taxation and less regulation. He said Obamacare was a mistake he thinks the bailouts have been counter productive. Hall answered the question submitted by the public with calm, confidence and directness. I think that if Cooper and Hall ever did debate that Hall would come out the winner.
Cooper's failure to be at a forum where he would have to have his record examined and answer questions should surprise no one. All summer, when the public was urging Cooper to have town hall meetings and face the voters he hid out. I will give Cooper the benefit of the doubt however and assume his failure to show was simply a scheduling conflict. If so, between now and the election there is still time to engage in a public forum or debate. I urge Hall and Cooper to schedule a debate so the public can compare the two candidates and make an informed decision about this important upcoming election.
Steve Dickerson and Senator Henry had very few differences and they were gentlemanly and polite toward each other. Senator Henry looked weak and feeble and occasionally confused. He had trouble getting out of his chair and the design of the forum required the candidates to get up and down several times as they rotated their turns at the podium.
The closest thing to a real debate in the evening was between Sherry Jones and Duane Dominy. It was obvious they do not like each other and have very different policy positions. In a longer and different format they could present a real lively debate.
One point of contention in their portion of the forum was over the use of the legislators per diem. Jones only lives 10 miles from the State Capitol yet is one of the legislators who has taken the most in per Diem.
She defended receiving the amount of money she has received. Dominy said if elected he would not take it and he would propose reform of the expense reimbursement so that legislators living within 30 miles of the capitol only get mileage and meals, not the funding for lodging; those living within 100 get a higher level of per diem; and those beyond 100 miles get an even greater level of per diem.
Dominy and Jones also disagreed about an issue that should simply be a matter of fact and not a matter of opinion. Jones said most of the funding for Metro schools comes from the State. Dominy said the Federal government pays approximately 10%, the State about 30%, and Metro about 60%. Both candidates were adamant they were correct and seemed exasperated with the other over this issue. I am almost certain that Dominy is closer to correct on this point but I could be wrong. I will attempt to fact-check this issues update this post when time permits. I also recorded the event and may update with more quotes and details. Check back.