Separate Reality

Only a fence post would have considered the recent Newark Advocate/Chamber mayoral “debate” without regard, reference, or remembrance of the current national candidate “debates’ (which have been drawing record viewership). Analysis was taken aback by the striking dissemblance of the two, the national and Newark’s. True, true, true, the local was not a production of any competitive capitalist endeavor like adversarial news organizations (CNN, NBC, Murdoch’s Fox). It cannot go unsaid that the Advocate is without competition in terms of Newark, and the Licking County Chamber of Commerce is the largest representative of business interest in central Ohio. The event site itself was one of Chamber membership. This difference must be noted in that it was unlike past candidate meetings/issue forums at different levels/different communities (national, state, and local) structured by social/community groups like the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, or even schools or institutions of higher learning. The mayoral debate’s structure, 100% by the business community within a private business setting (not within a 100% public space) set the tone, agenda, and format for the entire event. The recent national events, highlighting the “outsider” setting the tone or deciding the issues, was markedly absent. It was two different worlds. Newark’s incumbent stressed his accountant’s forte of, well, accounting. The challenger was not very challenging. Was this out of deference to the event’s organizers whom ultimately must be be served and defended? No one asked the question of how one candidate would be better than the other for a resident living on Maholm Street. That Newark has one of the highest percentages of non-owner occupant residential housing in Ohio was as absent as the Longaberger imbroglio. That the former site of the Meijer’s store on North 21st Street will have a new landlord was not. Creative alternatives to generating revenue for needed and essential public services, a mainstay of the national debates (be it subversive agitation or blustery braggadocio), were likewise MIA with the Newark version. Public transportation was mentioned as a nostalgic TV reminiscence – We’d love to visit Disney World, princess, but… (the reader can fill in the “Father Knows Best” scripted scenario). Analysis won’t even begin to consider other matters affecting (and effecting) the resident on Maholm Street that appear in the national debates but were curiously absent with the recent local edition. Does Newark exist in a separate reality?

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