Swearengin’s, Perea’s differences set apart in debate

Photo courtesy of www.perea2008.com

One of 13 mayoral debates between candidates Ashley Swearengin and Henry T. Perea took place on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at the Tower Theatre.

Although both agreed on many issues, they communicated differences about instating an independent police auditor and their personal pick for the upcoming presidential elections.

Swearengin said she would vote for Senator John McCain while Perea said he stood behind Senator Barack Obama. Swearengin noted that, “I’m also looking forward to meeting Governor Palin I think we have a few things in common.”

Personally, I hope she doesn’t have too much in common with Palin; did anyone see her response to Katie Couric about the financial crisis? She was more pathetic in person than the SNL skit by Tina Fey and Amy Poler made her out to be! That’s another story, though.

Photo courtesy of www.ashley4mayor.com

It appears to me that Fresno’s mayoral race carries almost as much historic magnitude locally as the presidential race does nationally. Gender has played a large role, as we have the choice of choosing between a male and female candidate – both of whom are relatively young (in their 30s).

Candidates’ experience is also at the forefront of debate. Perea has worked in Fresno government as a current city council member while Swearengin is co-founder and chief operations officer of a public-private partnership aimed at creating new jobs for Fresno.

Many times throughout the debate Perea referred to his experience in comparison to Swearengin’s. “It’s one thing to run for mayor and one thing to be mayor,” Perea commented. However, Swearengin was quick to rebut that although Perea may have experience, she has yet to see the outcome of many of his efforts.

Regarding an independent police auditor, Swearengin said that one would be beneficial. “We don’t just give them [police] money, we give them authority to uphold our laws, we give them a badge, and we give them guns,” Swearengin said.

Perea skirted around answering the question of instating the auditor so much so that the questioner, Denis Hart, had to ask him the question again. In fact, Perea was asked questions for clarity three times during the entirety of the debate.

He finally said that he was reluctant to instate a police auditor because he didn’t want to put our police in handcuffs. Some would argue that it is due to his allegiance to the police department which endorses him.

After both responded to further questioning, each candidate was allowed to ask their opponent one question. Notably, Sweargenin asked Perea if he would be willing to sign a pledge with her to denounce independent expenditures for negative attack ads.

His retort came as a slap in the face for Swearengin: “I wish you would have done the same for me in the primary when your supporters were attacking me the last four weeks of the campaign…why is it only now in the general election that you have found this disdain for independent expenditures?”

Perea said that although he found the proposal disingenuous, he was absolutely willing to align with it.

The evening quickly ended as the candidates gave their last statements and “why-you-should-vote-for-me” lines. The main theme throughout the night seemed to be the difference in experience.

Perea exhorts his know-how in city government, while Swearengin claims Fresno needs a fresh face, someone who loves our city and someone isn’t looking for political resume building.

I know who I’m voting for as mayor. If you aren’t sure yet, then checkout the mayoral debate coming to campus on Thursday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m., in McLane Hall Room 121.

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