Score One for Democracy!

Syracuse University's Maxwell School and WTVH-TV (Channel 5) are planning a debate for the 25th Congressional District candidates to be held (and aired live) on October 15. This debate is particularly relevant for peace activists because it will focus in large part on foreign policy and will be aired before a presidential debate - maximizing its visibility.

On September 12 the Syracuse Post-Standard carried a story announcing that the organizers had decided to exclude Green Populist Party Candidate Howie Hawkins from participating. "Our objective - Channel 5's and Maxwell's - is to provide voters with the kind of information, and in as much depth or detail as possible, to allow them to evaluate the two candidates, one of which (sic) will be their congressman," Maxwell Professor Robert McClure explained. He continued to state that Howie Hawkins had no chance of being elected and that his presence, "would decrease the amount of meaningful information the two major party candidates could share with viewers."

Local activists responded immediately to this gross violation of the democratic process, calling and emailing to challenge WTVH and Maxwell to allow local voters an equal opportunity to hear from all of the candidates on the ballot. SPC sent out a message to our email lists to keep the pressure on. Callers encountered a variety of excuses from the debate organizers, but community and university allies remained persistent.

By the end of the day on Monday, September 15, local grassroots activists enjoyed a clear victory - WTVH declared they would extend the debate to an hour and a half, and Howie Hawkins was invited to participate. It's clear that this change is a direct result of the persistent pressure of the community.

Howie's participation will broaden the discussion, exposing a wide audience to hear an alternative perspective on US militarism, nuclear weapons and the "war on terror." Thanks and congratulations to all those who supported the effort and held Syracus align="right"e University and local media to a higher standard. If the public is not allowed to hear all candidates in the race, how can we possibly have a democratic process?

See SPC in Action for details on joining Peace Council activists outside upcoming candidate forums and
Help SPC continue to win for democracy. You can make a difference.

debates, and let the candidates know we want an end to the US occupation of Iraq.
-Jessica Maxwell