I was going to let this slide, but Bus volunteer Jake Oken-Berg got feisty in the comments on my Candidates Gone Wild post from Tuesday, asking if I'd asked anybody at the Bus on the record why the City Council race wasn't included. So I asked Jefferson Smith, who runs the Bus, and here's what he had to say:
I haven't been in the planning meetings, but my best guess is that it was pretty simple: the Bus had already done a candidate forum on the city race, and there is a persistent challenge with numbers of candidates and the timing of the show.
A longer explanation...('cause you love that):
For each event when I participated in the planning, there was significant discussion about what could fit in the show and what couldn't, and about what might be saved for the next (general election) round. It was always just impossible to do every race. Every time a race was added, that meant the conversation for a give race was even more shallow (and trying to have a better spoonful of medicine to help the sugar go down has always been a thing I've pushed — and so has Jake). It was also a big challenge to figure out which candidates to include from a given race. For instance, if some person files to run, but does little else for the campaign other than to ask to get onstage, are they invited? This was a repeatedly thorny question.
Moving to this year, the Metro President race and the County Commission race have multiple qualified candidates each running actual campaigns. With the City race there is, shall we say, a wider range of commitment to the campaign and a wider range of qualifications. It's hard to say whether there should be 2 or 3 or 4 or 8 City Council candidates who should be invited to a debate (there are arguments for each of the numbers). Include the incumbent plus the one candidate who got public finance? Include with a vague sense of who seems credible?
Given that the Bus had already done a forum for City Council candidates (and then invited was anyone seeking public financing, which was an easy way to figure out invitations) — the decision to focus on the other two seemed like the smartest choice. (There is a chance relative entertainment value played a role — but any speculation on that from me is even further afield.)
In any event, as I noted, I wasn't in the room making the decision, but that's why I didn't complain about the choice. And why I actually think it made some good sense.
P.S. Pretty soon I'm gonna have to figure out a way that I don't chew my afternoon as you hunt for intrigue. Perhaps I should write more cursory emails!
What do you think? Was this a smart decision?