Friday, April 07, 2006

Candidate's Forum

This is a quick report on the Washtenaw County Democracy for America Candidates Forum, held on April 5, 2006, at the Superior Township hall. The purpose of the Forum was to have Democratic Party candidates for State of Michigan offices answer questions about themselves and their campaigns.  This forum was small; there were three candidates there, two for the Attorney General spot, and one for the Secretary of State (SoS).  They invited three attorney general candidates, but only two agreed to come.  Scott Bowen is the one who did not come. Amos Williams and Alexander "Sandy" Lipsey did come.  Geoffrey Fieger also may be running, but nobody even mentioned him.  For reference, here are their campaign sites:


Actually, Fieger's site is not a campaign site, it is the general site for his law practice ("the nation's premier law firm").

Scott Bowen apparently is Grandholm's pick for the AG spot.  The two who were there were asked if they knew why Bowen did not come.  Williams said that the rumor is that Bowen is on vacation in South Carolina.  I don't think anyone knew for sure.  

At the end of the Forum, I found that someone had placed little fliers under the windshield wipers of all the cars.  It was a notice that said that Scott Bowen in pro-life.

Ron Suarez is making a podcast of the Forum; a link should be posted here soon (or here).

I enjoyed the candidate's forum.  Both candidates for attorney general were impressive; I would have no trouble supporting either of them.  Sandy Lipsey is currently a State Representative.  Amos Williams is an attorney, a retired cop, and a military veteran.  Both name civil rights as important issues, although Williams was a little more vocal about that topic.  Both are strongly pro-choice. Lipsey talks a little faster, and gives a better global impression, but Williams comes across as more thoughtful.  He sometimes ran out of time while responding to questions (all candidate's responses were limited to two minutes.)  Both candidates often drew applause from the audience.  Both seem intelligent and well-educated.  Lipsey has a bachelor's degree in physics, graduated for the Kennedy School of Government, and Michigan Law.  Williams graduated from the FBI National Academy, and Detroit College of Law.  Both make an issue of consumer protection.  Both characterized the current AG, Mike Cox, as being excessively pro-business and weak on consumer protection.  They characterized Cox as being a man of little action.  They claim that his centerpiece accomplishment -- the increased aggressiveness in collection of child support -- as an unnecessary duplication of efforts already carried out by individual counties.

The SoS campaign is less interesting.  The site, http://www.uselections.com/mi/mi.htm, lists Mary Waters as the only active Democratic candidate for SoS.  She is hoping to unseat the incumbent, Terri Lynn Land.  She mentioned that one of the reasons she is running, is that people asked her to run.  The other reason she gave is that the current SoS had an important position in Bush's campaign, which is a conflict of interest.  Waters currently is a State Rep, and has asked for legislation that would prevent such conflicts of interest.  The main concern that she expressed was that the SoS in the chief elections officer in the State, and it is important to have someone with no conflicts of interest.  She exhibited some awareness of the current concerns about the integrity of the voting process.  However, I would have preferred to hear from her a greater understanding of the complex issues involved.  

For reference, the current SoS, Terri Lynn Land, was interviewed previously by Jack Lessenberry (1 2).  She has the idea of having picture ID voter registrations, that could be swiped in a machine at the voting precinct.  Her idea is that all of those machines would be connected together, so that all could be machine-verified, and no voter ID could be used more than once on a given day.  That sounds like an expensive proposition to combat voter fraud, when we all know that election fraud is the real problem.

After hearing the interview with Land, I wondered how anyone could propose to set up hundreds of nodes in a secure network on Monday, and expect it all to work at 7AM on Tuesday.  It is one of those things that is a nice idea, but anyone who has tried to set up any large network, not even a secure network, would probably tell you it would be foolish to expect it to work right away.  To expect to be able to set it up and have it be secure, and then to verify the security and functionality, in a short period of time, seems nutty to me.  It might work, but it might not, and what do you do if it doesn't work?  (Not that I am an expert, but I think I know enough to be able to say that much.)   Sure, you could set it up weeks ahead of time, but that gives it more time to fail, and creates a problem of how to make sure no one tampers with it in the meantime.

Is it strange to have two opposing candidates, one named Land, the other Waters?

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Has an update on the AG race.
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