The University of Rhode Island, the Providence Journal and Rhode Island Public Radio will be holding gubernatorial debates and senatorial debates at the Kingston campus later this month.
The gubernatorial debate will be held on Monday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m at Edwards Auditorium. Incumbent Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo, Republican challenger Allan Fung, Moderate candidate William Gilbert and Independent Joe Trillo will participate.
On Saturday, Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium, incumbent U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will debate Republican candidate Robert Flanders.
“We are delighted that Rhode Island Public Radio and the Providence Journal have chosen to work closely with us to present these two important debates,” URI President David Dooley said. “They will be exciting opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to be part of the political process in a direct way. Not only will they be able to see and hear the candidates as they respond to questions from talented journalists, including two of our students from the Good Five Cent Cigar, they will be able to participate in two live radio broadcasts. I look forward to two lively evenings of political discussion during this crucial time in our nation’s and state’s history, and I encourage you to join us.”
Providence Journal State House reporter Patrick Anderson, RIPR political reporter Ian Donnis and the Good Five Cent Cigar Editor-in-Chief Lianna Blakeman will question the candidates at the gubernatorial debate.
Donnis will also join Providence Journal Managing Editor Michael McDermott and the Good Five Cent Cigar News Editor Julia Moro in questioning candidates at the senatorial debate. Alan Rosenberg, the executive editor for the Providence Journal, said that one reason URI was chosen as the debate location was to encourage young people to ask questions and actively participate in elections.
“It’s a chance to have the voice of younger questioners who will bring a fresh perspective to the race and the questions that will be asked,” Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg also said that URI was chosen since it is an important institution to the Rhode Island community. “We wanted to have a location that would be meaningful to people in Rhode Island,” Rosenberg said. “RIPR thought URI would be a good place because it is the state’s university, and these races are central to the future of the state.”
Rosenberg said that he was excited for voters to see how the candidates think on their feet during debates.
“Often these days, candidates come prepackaged,” Rosenberg said. “They come in advertisements, news releases, Facebook posts. A debate gives voters a chance to see the candidate unfiltered and in a setting where the candidate can’t control the questions, can’t control the dialogue, answer questions they may not want to answer because they are not in the cocoon of their ads and social media.”
Many students are looking forward to the debates.
“I am glad that our University gets the chance to participate in such an important part of our democracy this election season,” Ed Tarnowski, president of the College Republicans, said. “Debates are an important part of electing our leaders and I hope URI students will take advantage of this opportunity to hear about where the top candidates stand on the issues. I look forward to attending.”
Tarnowski previously worked as a staffer for several Republican campaigns and is currently the political director for Flanders’ campaign.
Andy Boardman, president of the College Democrats, said that the debates are one of the best ways for voters to learn about candidates.
Boardman previously worked as a staffer on several Democratic campaigns and is a board member of the Young Democrats of Rhode Island.
“There’s a lot at stake in November,” Boardman said. “Not only here in Rhode Island, but across the country. URI students are going to have the opportunity to see the choice that they have for their future.”