mike kole, libertarian for secretary of state, had to pull out of the event. apparently he had a last-minute can't-pass-up opportunity to record some radio ads, so he couldn't make it. and that's cool: he called ahead to say he wouldn't be there. in contrast, it would seem susan fuldauer pulled a no-call no-show. she apparently just didn't show up (though it's conceivable that she was given bad information from the library's information desk; steph arrived late and yet she was told nobody was there yet, which was certainly false). [see update below]
similarly, melissa from shakespeare's sister couldn't make it due to transportation problems, but i hear she might still post about the event.
so it was a bunch of bloggers and three candidates: rep david orentlicher and john barnes, running for the state house, and russell brown, running for state senate. i can't vote for any of these guys because i'm not in their districts, but if i were, based on what i heard today i'd be happy to vote for any or all of them.
we had assigned seats; i was seated between jen wagner of tdw and kaj of resisting inertia. also, because i was near the end, i got to ask the second question. i didn't have anything prepared, but i was able to come up with something in time, however half-assed my phrasing might've been. i'll just cover it all briefly, in order of questions posed, because that's easiest. i didn't write any of the questions down, so they're all paraphrased.
#1 from jen tdw was something like "how do you plan to move indiana into the future instead of being a backwater hillbilly state as we're often perceived?"
- dr orentlicher discussed stem cell research, stressing that scientific researchers want to go to states where they know their research will be legal (if not encouraged). states like CA, NY, NJ, and WI are all investing in stem cell research, but in states like indiana, the legislature is considering banning such research. obviously, if you're a researcher, you're not going to go somewhere that might pass a law banning your work (putting you out of a job).
- russell brown discussed his plan to "plug the brain drain", the torrential flood of graduates from indiana colleges moving out of state rather than putting down roots here.
- john barnes talked about indiana's poor image nationwide, and talked about diversity programs, mentioning a program he'd worked on in warren township (where he's a schoolteacher).
- dr orentlicher came back for a moment to discuss improving our communities in a "race to the top"—building better schools and services will encourage more people to move here.
#2 my question was an open-ended quesion about transportation issues, toll roads, public transit, etc.
- dr orentlicher stressed that public transportation is a big issue, and an area where indiana historically has been awful, but he sees areas of improvement.
- barnes talked about "major moves" and the toll road lease. he said that many people's complaints about major moves is with the way it was "ramrodded" through the legislature with little discussion, not that there were no good ideas in the governor's plan. people are upset that major moves wasn't explained to them before it forced through the legislature.
- brown also spoke briefly about public transit, and how the state government has "not been proactive" in that area. he then went on to talk about things like sidewalks and bike lanes, arguing that we don't put nearly enough money into infrastructure. he had some good examples, including a nice soundbite: in response to his opponent's claim that one neighborhood in his distrcit, got $11k from major moves, barnes said that $11 grand is only "enough for one pothole".
- orentlicher had a follow-up comment that his biggest objection to major moves is that the legislation gives any future governor permission to lease off chunks of the state's infrastructure with no oversight.
#3 from kaj of resisting inertia was something like "how do you overcome the fact that it seems like the media is more interested in scandals and controversy than in discussing the issues?" (she used examples of controversy surrounding mailers and the defacement of yard signs in the orentlicher/densworth race)
- orentlicher took the opportunity to discuss stem cell research again (one of the controversial mailers was about stem cells). he said that he talks about stem cell research because it's an important issue, going back over some of what he said for question #1. but he also discussed cloning: he's against cloning for reproduction, but believes there is useful research that can be done involving cloning technology, but that is illegal in indiana. thus it's not a question of if indiana will ban useful research, because "we already have".
- brown discussed some issues he's tried to draw attention to, agreeing that it's difficult to get media attention. however, he noted that he's gotten a lot of coverage on blogs.
- barnes noted the difficulty of getting coverage, saying that the best coverage he'd gotten was in an advertorial in the herald weekly (neighborhood newspaper).
- orentlicher piped up again to note that he's been trying to talk about health insurance for months, but has had difficulty getting the media to pick up the discussion.
that's it for now... we're going to get some chinese food, and hopefully i'll have more later tonight.
update: susan fuldauer emailed me apologizing for missing the blogger meeting. she writes "Although my company has been very generous and supportivie with my campaign, there are occaisions when I need to be diligent in my work. Today was one of those days and I just could not get away in a timely fashion [...]"¶