Site of council candidates' debate shifted

October 16, 1994|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

The scheduled debate among candidates for the Harford County Council seats Thursday has been relocated to John Carroll School, and Harford Cable Network officials say it will be televised after all.

In a related move, WAMD Radio General Manager Jim McMahan said he will moderate a debate between Democratic Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann and Republican challenger Ron Szczybor on his morning radio show Oct. 24.

The council candidates' forum, which was to be held in the council chambers in the county courthouse, was rescheduled for the auditorium at John Carroll to accommodate a larger crowd, said Lauren Gordon, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Harford County. The auditorium seats 600 people.

Ms. Gordon said the league, which will moderate the forum, decided to change the location after an over-capacity crowd packed the council chambers earlier this month for a debate between Mrs. Rehrmann and Mr. Szczybor. The Harford County sheriff's office reported turning away more than 100 people from the council chamber, which seats 220.

Some people remained in the lower lobby of the building and strained to hear the candidates.

Bob Lidke, an HCN producer, confirmed that the local cable network's board of directors reversed its decision on taping the council candidates' forum and agreed to air the event seven times before the election. He said that the station had received a lot of feedback from the public after its initial decision not to televise the event.

"They [callers] said they don't know who these people are running for the council, and they want to see them and hear them," Mr. Lidke said.

The forum, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will include a 45-minute debate between Democrat Theresa M. Pierno and Republican Joanne S. Parrott, who are running for the council presidency.

The forum for the six council seats will begin at 8:15 p.m. Each of the 12 candidates will have three minutes to make a statement and two minutes to respond to his or her opponent's statement.

Mr. Lidke said HCN will tape the entire forum and will cover the expense.

"We wanted to do it all along," he said of the production staff, "but timing was a problem for us."

HCN had said earlier that it would be impossible to tape Thursday's debate because the network would be taping a football game between John Carroll and Havre de Grace High School that day. But Mr. Lidke said Friday that since the debate was moved to John Carroll, the site of the game, the crew would probably have time after the game to dismantle equipment outdoors and set it up in the auditorium before the start of the debate.

The taped council forum will air on HCN at noon on Oct. 25, 27 DTC and 28 and Nov. 2 and 7; at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 24; and at 6 p.m. on Oct. 26.

Mr. McMahan said that the Rehrmann-Szczybor radio debate will be broadcast live from the WAMD studio in Aberdeen from 7:15 to 8 a.m. on Oct. 24.

This is the first time he has dedicated 45 minutes of morning "prime drive time" to broadcast a debate, Mr. McMahan said, but he thinks there is significant interest in the race.

Mr. McMahan said he also will broadcast live the first hour -- the Parrott-Pierno debate -- of the County Council forum Thursday.

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