Candidates Share the Stage

By: Katie Kim Email
By: Katie Kim Email

Democratic candidate Virg Bernero was on a mission

"It's not rocket science. You get 2 podiums, a journalist in the middle, and you have a debate," Bernero says.

The mayor showed up unannounced to his opponent Rick Snyder's town hall meeting in Westland on Monday evening.

"I'm hoping for a handshake agreement for 3 televised debates," Bernero says. "That's what we were discussing before he pulled out of negotiations."

He came with a letter hoping to sit down with the businessman, but Bernero got more than he bargained for.

Snyder invited Bernero to join him in an impromptu town hall.

"I appreciate the Mayor being a part of this. And I thank you for your patience," Snyder says, addressing the crowd.

The candidates took questions from the audience, ranging in topics from education to medicaid. But some weren't so thrilled by the mayor's presence.

But most people we spoke to say they walked away with a better understanding of both men.

"I came here to see one candidate and I ended up seeing both," says Westland resident Margaret Harlow. "They were very gracious to one another. I was impressed."

"It was very informative. I haven't made up my mind yet," says Westland resident Leonard Poger. "There were good questions from the audience, and they were both very informed."

As for future debates, that's still up in the air.

"One of the problems with the history of debates, at least in the primary cycle, it was soundbites and bickering. And that adds no value," Snyder says.

"The problem is so many people are excluded," Bernero says. "In a democracy, you need people to be able to shop and compare."

All in all, the mayor accomplished his goal.

"The mayor wrote me a letter," Snyder says. "I'll read his letter."

"Hopefully he sees that I don't bite and a debate won't be a bad thing," says Bernero.

The mayor is hoping for three televised debates in large media markets. Snyder called-off negotiations last Friday. Both candidates told us they're open to sharing the stage at more town hall meetings.


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