In the fall of 2016, IOPL hosted its first Hometown Debate series with televised debates for several Council of State races – Wilson (Lt. Governor), Asheboro (Attorney General), and Statesville (Treasurer). The debates were moderated by Kelly McCullen from UNC-TV.
We felt it was important to ensure that North Carolina’s smaller cities and towns were brought into the conversation about these races and their issues and concerns addressed. This was a very successful effort for us and for the communities in which we were located. Statewide television and radio coverage contributed significantly to this success.
As 2017 was not an election year for statewide offices, we chose the topic of NC’s public education system and hosted three debates, again, in our smaller communities – Rocky Mount, Burlington, and Newton. Panelists included NC State Representatives and Senators, as well as representatives from the NC Justice Center and the John Locke Foundation. The debates were moderated by Loretta Boniti from Spectrum News.
Our 2018 series featured four of the proposed six amendments to the state Constitution. Once again, the debates were moderated by Loretta Boniti from Spectrum News. Panelists included elected officials and public policy leaders. The topics/locations were as follows:
– September 25 in Salisbury at the Meroney Theatre – Change process to fill judiciary vacancies
– October 3 in Washington at the Arts of the Pamlico’s Historic Turnage Theatre – Require voters to present a picture ID before voting
– October 9 in Clayton at the Clayton Center – Increase legislative control over appointments to bipartisan elections and ethics board
– October 16 Gastonia at the Gastonia Conference Center – Lower the constitutional cap on the state income tax rate from 10% to 7%
In 2019, the plan is to host the series on the topic of healthcare, with a return to candidate debates in 2020. Spectrum News will be the broadcast partner statewide, with Loretta Boniti as the moderator.
The debates are free and open to the public.