Bangor Chamber to host gubernatorial debate on economy

Posted Sept. 23, 2010, at 11:44 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Area voters will have yet another chance to hear from gubernatorial candidates next month when the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce hosts its debate on Thursday, Oct. 14 at Husson University’s Gracie Theater.

The Chamber’s board of directors voted this week to extend invitations to all five candidates on the ballot. The format will be similar to that used by the Chamber during the gubernatorial primary. Candidates will be afforded the opportunity to make opening and closing statements, and former Bangor Daily News editor Mark Woodward will moderate and pose questions to the candidates.

“We had a very successful set of primary debates that focused on the issues critical to businesses in our region,” said John Porter, president and CEO of the Bangor Region Chamber. “With a similar format in this round, we expect the candidates to tell us what they think will move our state and regional economy forward over the next four years.”

Last month, Democratic nominee Libby Mitchell pulled out of a forum in Bangor because all the candidates were not invited. That forum was hosted by the Bangor Region Development Alliance, Maine Ahead and Bangor Metro, but also featured support from the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce.

At the time, Porter said it only made sense to invite Mitchell, Republican Paul LePage and Eliot Cutler, the most well-known of three independents. The board, however, voted to include all five.

“There was a good lively discussion about whether to invite three or five candidates,” Porter said. “With three, you get more time with each candidate and it sets the event apart, because there are a lot of events with all five candidates.”

“But you have two people on the ballot [Independents Scott Moody and Kevin Scott] that aren’t fringe candidates; they are legitimate. There is something to be said for being inclusive.”

The local law firm Rudman & Winchell is underwriting the cost of the Chamber’s debate, and Husson University has agreed to provide the venue. The debate will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. but also will be taped for broadcast on public access cable stations throughout Maine.

Tickets to the debate are free of charge and will be made available through the Chamber at its offices at 519 Main St. in Bangor. More information is available on the Chamber’s website, www.bangorregion.com.

Another debate, hosted by the Bangor Daily News and WVII ABC 7-WFVX Fox 22, will be held earlier that week, from 8 to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11, in Peakes Auditorium at Bangor High School.

That debate will be broadcast live on WFVX Fox 22 and will be simulcast live on the BDN website, www.bangordailynews.com.

Free tickets are available from the Bangor Daily News and WVII on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a limit of six tickets per person.

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