Debate Dissection Part II

Posted on October 27, 2009


Politics is the art of evasion. Try as you might to frame a question that requires a specific answer, the good politician will find away to avoid answering it so as not to commit to any specific course of action. Most of the questions at the Ford School debate were of the “What would you do…” variety. Yet both candidates were guilty at times of not providing any specifics.

“What would you do to support the concept of full-service community schools in Lynn?” asked a resident and teacher in the public schools. Clancy responded by saying it was “the most effective anti-crime idea that anyone could ever have… my administration will promote policies that reflect the needs of the people who need the helping hand of government the most.”

Flanagan Kennedy praised Ford School principal Clare Crane, saying “she did a great job for her community,” and lambasted Clancy for closing the Ford School Annex. Clancy responded by saying cuts in public funding made by a Republican administration forced him to make “tough decisions.”

At one point during this exchange, in what I thought was a risky move, Flanagan Kennedy “donated” 30 seconds of her time to Clancy, saying that he had not answered the question. Clancy used the time to emphasize the importance of keeping class size down, leaving an opening the size of the Ford School for Flanagan Kennedy to remark, “class size increases when schools close.” Telling the audience what they wanted to hear, she then said she would do everything she could to support the re-opening.

The next question was “What would you do to increase funding for schools?” Clancy used the opportunity to promote his experienced leadership with “democratic funding formulas” and accuse his opponent of supporting an increase in property taxes. Flanagan Kennedy cited what she said was an increase in property taxes of $600 between 2002 and 2009 under Clancy, and stated that she never said she was going to raise property taxes. So what would she do to increase school funding? She repeated her promise to hire a grant writer for the city.

In terms of debating, I thought Flanagan Kennedy won these exchanges. She tempted fate by repeating her gambit of donating time to Clancy, but he didn’t take the bait a second time.


Posted in: local government