Thursday October 18, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- The first formal public debate between the two candidates for the 4th Berkshire District seat in the state legislature is being organized by faculty and students at Monument Mountain Regional High School.

The format for the Monday evening event was announced on Wednesday by the high school's principal, Marianne Young. General outlines of the debate had been confirmed last week after Green-Rainbow Party challenger Scott Laugenour and state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, urged that a private civics class they're in early in the day be followed by an open campaign event at night.

The one-hour, community-forum debate, to be held in the Monument auditorium starting at 7 p.m., will be emceed by William Fields, a retired social studies teacher at the school and the faculty contact for the former Dowmel Lecture Series held at Monument for 15 years.

Meghan St. John, a Monument teacher of English and journalism and adviser to the school newspaper, the Maroon Tribune, will moderate, joined by two students who will help organize the evening and will ask follow-up questions.

Members of the audience will be given index cards when they enter the auditorium for questions they want to pose to the candidates.

After each candidate delivers a five-minute opening statement, the audience will get five minutes to write their questions, which will be collected by members of the student senate. Fields and student representatives will sort the index cards by topic or theme.

Each candidate will have up to 90 seconds to respond to the selected questions. The event will conclude with five-minute closing statements by Pignatelli and Laugenour. A coin toss will determine the order of opening and closing statements.

The debate will be recorded for presentation on CTSB's public-access channel for Time Warner Cable subscribers. It can also be viewed live online through the school's stream, http://www.ustream.tv/channel/monument-tv.

Prior to the 7 p.m. debate, the candidates will be interviewed by students from the Maroon Tribune and Monument Mountain Tele vision, which is shown on public access TV for Time Warner Cable subscribers. Reporters from area media also will be allowed to ask questions, according to Young's announcement.

The second public debate of the campaign will be held at the Lenox Library on Halloween night, Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 7:30 p.m.,
organ ized by the Berkshire Beacon weekly newspaper.

A radio debate will be broadcast by WSBS (AM 860, FM 94.1) on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 9 a.m.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6247.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto.