Barstow's First Congressional Debate

Wrap-Up Report

Barstow's Congressional Debate
Approximately 300 attended Barstow's first Congressional debate held at the Junior High School
on March 29, 2012.  Moderator Sharron Angle is pictured at the far right addressing the candidates.

      All eight of the Congressional 8th District of California candidates who RSVP appeared for the Thursday night Congressional debate.  They included:

                  Gregg Imus, former Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Tim Donnelly
                  Ryan McEachron, Mayor of the City of Victorville
                  Angela Valles, City Councilwoman for the City of Victorville
                  Anthony Adams, former Assemblyman
                  Joseph Napolitano, Helendale, Small business owner
                  Dr. George Craig, M.D., Apple Valley practice
                  John Pinkerton, Pinon Hills, Counselor at Silverado High School
                  William "Bill" Jensen, former Mayor of Hesperia.

      Invited candidates who apparently do not take Barstow's voters seriously and who failed to present themselves at the debate were:

                  Jackie Conaway, declined
                  Phil Liberatore, declined
                  Brad Mitzelfelt, never responded
                  Paul Cook, never responded
                  Dennis Albertsen, never responded

      A few of the questions originated from the hosts, the Forerunner Christian Fellowship and The Patriot Forum, a nonpartisan and Constitution promotional organization; but the majority of questions were from the public who submitted question cards prior to the debate's start.

      In its prior and after articles on the debate, the Barstow Desert Dispatch newspaper noted that the public's questions were being sorted by The Patriot Forum, insinuating that something was perhaps inappropriate.

      The public's questions were compiled without bias as to topic, and when similar, as there were many duplicate questions on jobs, the economy, and the budget, they were combined so as not to have repetitive questions.  As many questions as possible were given within the given time allowance.  Each of the 8 candidates was given 1-minute to answer each question with a candidate's option of a 30-second rebuttal after all candidates had responded to a question.

      With 8 candidates and a 1-minute response time, only about 10 questions could be squeezed into the 2-hour debate program after the introductions, debate rules, questions, answers, rebuttals, and summations.

      Angle's moderating tightly followed a preset order of decorum that was preprinted on handouts and given to each member of the public as they entered the auditorium.

      At one early point in the debate, the mostly conservative audience could be heard responding negatively to a response given by Democrat candidate John Pinkerton.  Moderator Sharron Angle immediately admonished the audience that she was not tolerating anything but respect for the personal opinions of the candidates.  During the remainder of the debate, the audience appeared respectful.

      After the debate, all of the attending candidates appeared very pleased in the manner in which the debate was conducted.

      During an impromptu lunch with Sharron Angle the following day, a Community Alliance representative learned that the Reno, Nevada resident flew down to moderate a debate for the first time in her life; though she has participated in many debates as a candidate, she had never moderated one.  She volunteered her services for the Barstow debate and was not compensated for her time.

      Angle served for many years in the Nevada legislature and was the subject of many vicious attacks in her unsuccessful attempt to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2010.  She was hammered by her opponents as a racist for her promotion of tighter borders and her stance against preferential entitlements to undocumented immigrants.

      Knowing first hand the unfairness of how some debates can be slanted, Angle appeared to make special efforts for fairness, such as a lottery for seating placement and order of candidate responses.  All candidates were asked the same questions.

      Angle volunteered moderating a second debate the following night in Victorville before returning to Reno.

      At that second debate, three additional candidates attended apparently believing that a far larger audience would be attending due to the surrounding population base.  The Victorville event, held at The First Assembly of God church (that's the big one adjacent the east side of the I-15) had over 100 less in the audience.

      A special salute is due to Democrat candidate John Pinkerton who joined the debate knowing that he would likely be the lone Democrat in a candidate panel comprising of 6 Republicans and 1 undeclared party candidate (Anthony Adams).

This story is written by the Community Alliance, a cosponsor of the debate
hosted by The Patriot Forum and the Barstow Forerunner Christian Fellowship.