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Jeff Whitten: Forums, part 2
editor's notes

I want to amend something I wrote last week in this space about candidate forum season.

I basically said such events are useless and excruciatingly boring. I wasn’t wrong, but I wasn’t right, either.

Mind you, I’m still no fan of candidate forums. Perhaps I’m being selfish, because such events are a royal pain in the rear end to cover from a newspaper standpoint (how do you report fairly and with some context on what 14 candidates have to say in the confines of a newspaper story? I’m still trying to figure that out, and I’ve been doing this job a while).

What’s more, it strikes me that hearing platitudes delivered by a candidate in front of a crowd are no guarantee how he or she will serve once in office.

The cynic in me says all such shindigs accomplish is giving voters an idea whether or not candidates have done some homework and can speak in public.

And here a sort of tangent: I’m no fan of the loud or the perpetually outraged, and over the years I’ve seen more than one know-it-all, reform-minded firebrand of a candidate for local office get up in front of a crowd and huff and puff and complain about stuff, and, nineand- a-half times out of 10, if they manage to get elected they wind up turning into the very thing they ran against.

Either that, or they take their ball and go home. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, or a good one. It’s just fact.

Now, while we tend to thank folks for stepping up to serve their community by running for office -- service to community is a good thing, it really is – seeking office reminds me of an old saying I first heard decades ago from former Florida A& M football coach Billy Joe, when he was talking about trying to make the I-AA playoffs.

In short, Joe said getting his football team into the I-AA playoffs was like a dog that chases cars all season long and then catching it right at the end.

I.e., chasing a car is one thing, catching it is something else entirely. Then the question becomes “what are you gonna do with that car now that you caught it?”

That question looms large for anybody who wins an election, whether they know it or not.

As for the two forums I sat in on and tried to keep up with for coverage purposes, both were well done. In that regard, kudos to the Bryan County Democratic Committee, the great Johnnie Miller and the thought-provoking work of Rev. Francys Johnson, who moderated and is one of my favorite people to hear speak whether he knows it or not.

Also, well as to the Richmond Hill Bryan County Chamber of Commerce CEO Kathryn Johnson, the RHBCC Government Affairs Committee and moderator Tom Simon.

Kudos, also, to Bryan County Communications Manager Matthew Kent, who has apparently become indispensable when it comes to such public events by doing the audio visual stuff, like video and keeping the microphones and loudspeakers working.

And, believe it or not, thanks to those who are running for office, whether I think they’re sane or not, and those who care enough about their vote and the issues to take the time out of the day or evening or weekend to show up and pay attention.

As regular readers of this space know, I’m no fan of social media, and in that regard heard some interesting comments from one candidate during the school board candidate forum – she referenced keyboard warriors and school-aged bullies learning their habits from their parents who go on social media.

That’s preaching to the choir, that is. If there’s one thing I dislike more than I dislike candidate forums, and there’s actually a lot of things I dislike more than candidate forums -- war, disease, people who abuse children or animals or old folks, traffic, the way this place has filled up – it’s keyboard warriors, social media and a certain local Facebook group of what has to be the most miserable, mean-spirited, unhappy people who ever ruined anyone’s day anywhere, ever.

So, maybe I don’t like candidate forums, but these were well done and if you got to cover one, might as well make it a good one.

Enough preaching. I hate it when I do that. A limerick: There once was a hack named Whitten, who got tired of things he had written.

So he took off his clothes, wiggled his toes and decided to learn math addition.

That’s right, that’s right. Two plus two is 87. 49 minus 2 million is eight and 11 into 4.

See how I throw them numbers out like I know what I’m doing? I didn’t even have to use all my toes because I have a calculator on my cell phone. It makes me a stable genius.

I’ll do some more. Nine minus 14 unicorns and 4.BX0.Lr over 13 is how much weekly newspaper editor’s make in a week, with cheese.

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