The Maine Public Broadcasting Network
Listen Live
Classical 24
Search
Maine Candidates for Governor Finally Agree to Appear Together on Teen TV Show.
08/31/2010   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

For weeks, some organizations have been trying to get all five gubernatorial candidates on one stage for an election forum. Those efforts have been foiled either by scheduling conflicts, a decision to exclude some of the candidates based on perceived viablity -- or the refusal of another candidate to participate in a forum that doesn't include everyone who's on the ballot. But all that changes this Sunday when the quintet of gubernatorial candidates converge in Westbrook to be grilled by teenagers.

Related Media
Maine Candidates for Governor Finally Agree to App Listen
 Duration:
4:39

For weeks, some organizations have been trying to get all five gubernatorial candidates on one stage for an election forum. Those efforts have been foiled either by scheduling conflicts, a decision to exclude some of the candidates based on perceived viablity -- or the refusal of another candidate to participate in a forum that doesn't include everyone who's on the ballot. But all that changes this Sunday when the quintet of gubernatorial candidates converge in Westbrook to be grilled by teenagers.

Although there are five candidates vying for the Blaine House on the November ballot, it's been difficult for event organizers to get them all in one place for forums or debates. But all that changes this weekend when the five square off for their first televised event.

But don't be surprised if you don't recognize the venue: "Hello and welcome to Youth in Politics. I'm Justin Chenette and today's guest is Independent gubernatorial candidate Shawn Moody. Welcome to the show." Moody: "Thank you Justin."

Justin Chenette and Logan Leavitt may not have the star power of some of Maine's TV anchors, but they're convinced time is on their side. Neither are out of their teens, but they will be the first to interview the gubernatorial candidates together in a forum that will be televised by WPME as part of the CW network that includes WPXT.

The stations are respectively licensed in Lewiston and Portland, and have featured a weekly show called Youth In Politics for the last seven years. With high school camera operators and hosts, the show focuses on a youthful perspective.

But according to Justin Chenette, a 19-year-old student at Lyndon State College in Vermont, there is no ideological agenda.
"The only agenda is to hold leaders accountable," he says.

Chenette and Logan Leavitt have been doing just that on a series of televised interviews that are archived on the show's Website, www.ynetlive.com.

Chenette says the show strives to maintain an unbiased format. "There isn't like a political view, Democratic or Republican leaning. It's unbiased, and I think that's what journalism should be. And so, it's about a half-hour program with commercials and it's kind of a sit-down format, and it's just an interview."

The five gubernatorial candidates really haven't had the opportunity to mix it up as a group yet, and while this Sunday's taping of the show will provide them all with an opportunity to get ready for prime time, Logan Leavitt, 17 and a senior at Deering High School, says none of the politicians should presume that they'll be thrown softball questions from their teenage hosts.

"Me and Justin, we have our questions prepared and we are definitely not going to be easy," Leavitt says. "We are going to get down and dirty. We're not going to ask typical questions that they probably hear from other stations, or would hear in other forms. We really want to get down to issues that maybe people wouldn't think about first of all, but things they really care about."

Chenette says access to health care and increased employment opportunities are as important to young people as any other segment of society, but he says many of the show's young viewers want to know more about the candidates' plans for post-secondary education.

He says the 90-minute forum will be noteworthy, not only for being the first televised forum of this campaign season, but also for being one that provides such a unique experience for student broadcasters.

"I think it's a great opportunity to be able to do that, and to be the first kind of televised debate with all five candidates," Chenette says. "I think it's an unprecedented opportunity for especially a young person to be able to do that and say, 'You know, looking back on this time, it's going to probably be one of the highlights of my career starting out.'"

"I've been fighting for the last 10 years to give young people a voice," says Dudley Davis, the executive producer for Youth in Politics. Davis says he started the show as a way to introduce young people in southern Maine into the world of broadcasting and public policy.

"By starting Youth in Politics, this was one of the mediums in which that we did this. But their job is to learn, actually, how to get better, to ask good strong questions and then do the follow-up questions and not let the guests lead and run and determine what questions are going to be asked," Davis says. "And our kids have actually done a terrific job in doing this."

For candidates like Democratic Blaine House contender Elizabeth Mitchell, the chance to be interviewed by students in the first televised gubernatorial forum is both challenging and unique.

"Frankly, I'm looking forward to being on the same panel with all my opponents," Mitchell says. "It is the very first time during the campaign, and I look forward to it and I'm glad that young people are leading the way."

The 90-minute forum is scheduled to air at 8:00 p.m. on the CW channel WPME on Sept. 14th and Sept. 18.




 

ReturnReturn!



Become a Fan of the NEW MPBNNews Facebook page. Get news, updates and unique content to share and discuss:

Recommended by our audience on Facebook:
Copyright © 2014 Maine Public Broadcasting Network. All rights reserved.