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Gubernatorial candidates debate at forum

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Students of the Political Action Club, advised by social studies teacher Lance Goldberg, organized a forum between gubernatorial candidates in the cafeteria on March 22 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Junior Scott Tuohy moderated the debate, and juniors Alyssa Degrandis, Owen Belisle, and Jessica Ashton were timekeepers. The Governor’s Information Forums co-sponsored the event.

Senior Dylan Suffredini founded the Political Action Club this year with the goal of fostering student involvement in the political process. The club previously hosted a debate between the two candidates for Farmington Town Council Chair, Jay Ghassem-Zadeh and Nancy Nickerson, on October 29.

The forum featured six current candidates: Republicans Peter Thalheim and Eric Mastroianni, Democrats Jacey Wyatt and Mark Stewart Greenstein, unaffiliated candidate Micah Welintukonis, and Libertarian Rod Hanscomb. Candidates Guy Smith and Luke Bronin pulled out a few days prior to the forum.

“It was really to just foster discourse in terms of the issues that Connecticut and Farmington faces, which the next governor is going to have to deal with,” Suffredini said.

In order to prepare for this forum, students formed groups and collaboratively researched assigned candidates to generate questions that were asked.

“I wanted to moderate this debate because I thought I could facilitate discussion positively between all the candidates. I offered myself as a possible moderator, and the club agreed I was a good choice,” Tuohy said.

The questions the Political Action Club developed focused on topics such as taxes, welfare, infrastructure, school security, and jobs. Each candidate had one question directed to them and also could respond to questions directed at other candidates. They each had 12 minutes to speak.

“I enjoyed moderating the debate, as I got to meet and hear from people who could potentially run our state. It was difficult to handle candidates who tried to talk over others, as you need to be respectful but firm,” Tuohy said.

It was Tuohy’s first time moderating, and according to him, the experience was a valuable learning opportunity.

“I have become more interested in politics and will stay active in town elections and policy,” Tuohy said.

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Gubernatorial candidates debate at forum