This letter is written by Nick White:
The debate last night at Valley Regional High School for Senator of the 33rd District should not have been missed by many - but it was.
Of hundreds of young supporters of Republican nominee Art Linares, I found that the youngest person in sight was myself, 23. As a former classmate of Art, not having seen much of him over the past five years, I was curious to see how he had grown, what platform he would be running on, and how he was all of a sudden in the political limelight so shortly after college.
I was also curious to see how Democratic nominee and current state representative Jim Crawford, a former teacher of Art’s and mine, would perform in the debate (it has been 10 years since his tutelage).
Perhaps I expected more people from Westbrook High School to show up, particularly alumni, many of whom have been supporting Art on Facebook for months now. But the vast majority of the audience were 40+ years of age. This bothers me.
Those who did show up hopefully found, as I did, that the race for this local position is not the circus that we see every four years between presidential hopefuls on national television.
Jim Crawford spoke earnestly and lucidly, Art Lineras displayed true passion and surprising competence in the debate despite his youth and some overblown attacks on his former teacher, and Green Party hopeful Melissa Schlag demonstrated experience and thorough, detailed knowledge of every point covered, albeit vaguely radical at times.
What impressed me most was Crawford’s determination to stick to the subject, often having the original question repeated prior to rebutting. This was often done following Linares, who frequently strayed from the topic in order to attack Crawford’s record or talk about job creation.
Although the debate did become heated at a point between Crawford and Linares - after Linares accused Crawford of “turning his back” on the district and not caring about our safety - for the most part things were quite civil. Linares seemed to be picking a fight with Crawford the whole time, but perhaps he was simply being audacious in his youth and fighting to overcome inexperience.
Regardless, those who were present for this debate were presented three clear options for this November, and it is a shame that so few young audience members were in attendance.
I am not someone who regularly participates in political discourse with anyone but my own family, but I was excited and proud to attend, and I learned a lot and found a greater interest for local politics.
All discussions that took place were thought-provoking and engaging, much to my amazement, so these debates should not be feared by anyone with a phobia of politics. It is my hope that my age group will represent itself better at next week’s debate at Morgan High School. But don’t worry - I will be putting my money where my mouth is and telling everyone I see. Such events are, after all, how one best determines one’s vote.
-- Nick White