Local candidates debate at North campus


Claire Kleffman

Signs for various local candidates are visible on the walkway to the upper parking lot at CCAC North campus. The campus hosted a debate earlier this month.

Kristen Kaelin, North Campus Staff

CCAC North hosted two sets of political candidates in a forum-style debate in anticipation of the upcoming election.

The event ran from 6:30 to 8:30 in the evening on November 1 and consisted of two debates lasting an hour each. The debates were held in the atrium of North Campus, with standing room only for listeners.

The first debate was between Democrat Lindsey Williams and Republican Jeremy Shaffer, the candidates for the 38th Senatorial District.

The second featured Republican Michael Turzai and Democrat Emily Skopov of the 28th Legislative District.

The forums were moderated by the League of Women Voters. The topics ranged from taxes and public education to gerrymandering and marijuana legalization.

Williams and Shaffer had fairly similar views, despite being political opponents. Skopov and Turzai, however, disagreed on almost every issue.

Opinons from listeners in the crowd varied greatly, similar to those of the candidates. Ultimately, each response from either candidate was met with cheers from members of the crowd.

Debate strategies were split clearly along party lines.

Both republican candidates highlighted their large families and status as Pittsburgh area natives. The two Democrats, both women, chose to highlight the endorsement they have received from various unions and organizations.

The Democrats used their responses to argue for support of social programs, and the republicans steered their answers towards government spending and lower taxes.

Lindsey Williams focused mostly on social issues, while Jeremy Shaffer focused more on policy.
Turzai emphasized his legacy as sitting representative of the 28th legislative district and the actions he has taken. Skopov emphasized what she saw as Turzai’s failures, specifically with respect to allocation of funding.

The Skopov/Turzai debate was more intense than the first, with both candidates lacking the civility of the previous two.

The audience responded to this intensity, increasing the frequency and aggressiveness of interruptions in comparison to the Williams/Shaffer forum.

The difference in courtesy between the two forums was most obvious during the last question, which was identical between the two. When asked to give a “non-trivial” compliment to the opposing candidate, both Williams and Shaffer complimented each other’s dedication and commitment to beliefs.

Skopov, however, scoffed at the idea of complimenting Turzai, before saying she admired the effort he put into running. Turzai in turn chose to forego complimenting Skopov entirely. He chose instead to compliment her family, specifically one of her sons, with whom he had spoken in the past.

Ultimately, the four debating candidates and their political ideas were very different. And each want your vote an November 6.