I have been to a lot of candidate forums during the past few months.
I was at one in Worthington for education.
I went to one for senior health care in Fulda.
I went to a senate-only debate in Windom.
I’ve been to a forum in Fulda for Joe Schomacker, Gene Short, Alan Oberloh and Bill Weber.
The final forum I saw was in my own backyard — almost literally — at the Worthington High School, which featured Rod Hamilton, Cheryl Avenel-Navara, Oberloh and Weber.
Throughout the entire election season, I have gotten to know each of the candidates in a small way, or at least been able to hear what they have to say.
But if there has been any frustrating parts, it’s been the fact that the candidates — for the most part — are unwilling to talk about some of the issues surrounding the campaign.
And I’m not talking about the budget, health care or taxes.
I’m talking about the negative campaign.
That’s the issue filling the letters to the editor. That’s what has been filling our mailboxes.
But when the candidates get together, it seems like business as usual.
That is, until Wednesday night.
At the end of the forum, when each candidate had a chance for closing statements, Hamilton held up flyers and looked at Weber and Oberloh, “I remember what it was like, running for an open seat. I had the garbage sent out against me and against my opponent.”
He then continued, “These two, they don’t have control over this. You take a look at it, it’s the state Democrat party and you have the Republicans doing the same thing. It’s garbage. Put this right where it belongs.”
The crowd of about 50 people made the only audible noise all night — they clapped.
“Get to know them,” Hamilton continued before waiting for the crowd to fall silent, “as individuals.”
Oberloh, who has had ads go out against and for him, then added, “I am not representing the Metro. I am not representing the people that have sent the seven pieces of propaganda that say how bad of a person I really am.
“I never knew when I filed for this that I was as bad of person as I truly am. It’s disgusting.”
After talking about how expensive those flyers are, Oberloh said, “I was asked by both parties to run. If I would have chose to run as a Republican would this stuff just have a different picture on it?”
Weber had the final say on the subject during the forum.
“Certainly as we talk about the issues that are out there, there are those who wish to sidetrack things with negative campaign that come out,” Weber said. “The unfortunate thing is, as was mentioned earlier, there are both sides doing it.”
He later said, “Unfortunately, candidates can’t do anything to stop it and for anyone to say that they are receiving that type of treatment and no one else is, that’s just not true.”
For all the debates and forums I have been to, this was — by far — the most interesting few minutes in any of them.
The video above is the footage from those few minutes, it’s definitely worth a watch.
I have talked to all the candidates and I’ve heard their thoughts on all the issues.
When it comes to Nov. 6, I hope people base their vote on the candidates, not the garbage that has been filling the mailboxes.