Personalities may drive choice between highly qualified candidates
Madison District 6 incumbent Marsha Rummel and her challenger Scott Thornton talked neighborhood and citywide issues Monday night (March 25) at the final candidate forum before next Tuesday’s general election. Nearly 100 people crowded into a basement room of St. Bernard Catholic Church to hear the opponents argue more over style than substance.
It was as though we were back in the spring of 2008 and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were giving their most earnest reasons why they should be elected. The stellar resumes of both Alder candidates has cracked the door on the less perfect and poor electoral measure that may make the difference: Personality.
Marsha Rummel and Scott Thornton were very cordial to each other when pressing points of policy and strategy. It was challenging to find disagreement and if there was stark contrast it was hard to discern.
“I think the bottom line question is how do you help negotiate conflict with different uses in our city and I think I have a lot of experiences with that over the many years,” Rummel said into a response to a question about conflict resolution. “Our goal is to get together, sit down, figure out what how we can resolve them together whether its putting up a fence or insulating a roof…those are the things that I’m committed to helping us work with together.”
The forum was an open discussion of issues and Rummel, both in interviews and on this night, declined to go hard after Thornton during the period when candidates could ask each other questions. Marsha asked Scott about his ideas to address poverty and what he would do as Alder to tackle poverty in the District.
“They need jobs in Darbo-Worthington. They need things for young people to do. They need a grocery store or someplace to go other than Walgreens or fast food. And they need to make some connections,” Thornton said in reference to the other neighborhoods in the District that have mature service systems for residents. “And get Darbo-Worthington connected to some of the services provided in SASY (Schenk Atwood Starkweather Yahara) and some of the services provided in Marquette neighborhood.”
Scott Thornton kept up his main line of attack against Marsha Rummel by accusing her several times during the session of being a poor communicator and in the case of a proposed new business, not pre-interviewing the proprietor before holding a neighborhood meeting about the business.
Rummel did not respond to the specific situation Thornton highlighted but spoke in general about how she always responds, even if its not right way.
“Maybe I’m sometimes not there at the prompt, but I’m always there eventually,” Rummel responded. “The real helpful thing is that we have a great City Council Staff. So I really rely on them to help me get meetings scheduled and respond to stuff…It’s like 25 things at once. So it’s fun and sometimes its a little overwhelming and other times it’s like ‘look what we accomplished and we did it together”.
Related: District 6 Candidate Q & A: Marsha Rummel
But even “accusing” is a strong word in describing the exchanges between these two candidates who seem who have worked together before and respect each other’s accomplishments. Rummel only one time appeared slightly more animated when she took some of her allotted answer time to rebut a charge leveled by Thornton during a prior question about a vote she made over the funding of a Commonwealth Development project.
As a three-term Alder and a longtime participant on City committees and in neighborhood associations prior to assuming office, Marsha Rummel has a long and accomplished resume on which to base her argument for being returned to office.
Related: District 6 Candidate Q & A: Scott Thornton
Scott Thornton has been just as involved at the neighborhood level and on City Committees and spent most of the evening drawing distinctions over Rummel’s performance and communication. There is support for Thornton as well considering he was instrumental in revitalizing the Marquette Neighborhood Association as well as embarking on an ambitious public art program.
The forum was moderated by Art Hackett a former reporter from Wisconsin Public Television’s Here and Now program who asked questions submitted online and from audience members.
The “Alder Forum – Meet the District 6 Alder Candidates” was sponsored by the three neighborhood associations in the District: Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA), Schenk Atwood Starkweather Yahara Neighborhood Association (SASYNA), and new to the District, the Worthington Park Neighorhood Association (WPNA).
Below is the audio of the entire forum. Abrupt jumps in audio may be heard since large gaps between speakers were removed to shorten the playback time.
Forum Part One
Forum Part Two
Question and Answer Part One
Question and Answer Part Two
Forum newswrap filed for WORT-FM‘s In Our Back Yard