I'm just back from the moderating the mayoral debate sponsored by the Descro Neighborhood Task Force. With only two candidates, we experimented with a more interactive format than in most debates. Panelists Jim Van Arsdale and Royal Johnson took turns asking questions in four-minute blocks, which allowed follow-up questions on key issues and made for some interesting exchanges. Don't ask me what anybody actually said: I was too busy monitoring the second hand on my wristwatch.
Johnson asked some questions along these lines, and I was relieved to hear that both candidates seemed to have as much trouble sorting this issue out as I do.
But my impression was that Tussing did somewhat better overall than he did in the six-candidate primary debate. The longer format allowed more of his in-depth knowledge to surface, and his sense of humor showed through (before the debate, he suggested that he and Garver should just give each other's answers, since both had heard them often enough before). The format also forced him to answer some pretty tough questions about his agreement not to work for the city and his probable relations with city staff, and he answered those questions fully and without flinching.
Garver doesn't quite have Tussing's natural ease in front of a crowd, but he did OK, too, and he defended himself well from a cheapshot question posed from the audience by Mary Jo Fox, who essentially accused him of using his consulting business as a front to pump campaign funds into his own pocket. Pretty dumb.
So what difference does it make who wins? Not much, probably. More laughs with Tussing, no doubt, and possibly more public confrontations. That makes good copy. Garver might work harder and push more initiatives and projects -- maybe good, maybe not. Frankly, I'm still not sure how I will vote. Where's Bovee when you need him?