by Marion Marks
The Caddo Sheriff Forum of the Broadmoor Neighborhood Association September 29 sparked viewer interest with differentiations of incumbent and challenger. The experience and ease with which Sheriff Steve Prator towered over Constable Eric Hatfield glowed in factual evidence and values. The glaring issue that struck me personally was the childish personal manner some of
[full camera of audience] Hatfield’s supporters demonstrated that parallel a middle-school bully match when children can’t seem to succeed on the playground without acrimonious physical and verbal tussle.
Leaving the church it became evident that some vocal supporters felt it necessary to heckle and challenge any who wouldn’t allow them to “have their way.” The mob mentality of election support is not limited to Caddo Parish, yet this stain on local elections seems to reflect a national perception of our other democratic processes that are flawed.
As the New York Times, New Yorker and other national outlets refer to a racist or separatist manner with which citizens fail to fairly handle the prosecutorial or other judicial processes, I see the “bully” or “red-neck” mentality at election forums as symptomatic of an immaturity required to properly participate in the larger democratic responsibilities of our day-to-day business.
The Broadmoor Neighborhood Association Forum for the 2015 election season has been as good a measure of community involvement as any competitive democratic election season of city-parish or local officials as I have seen in recent cycles. The participation and involvement of residents interacting with candidates and elected leaders is an excellent educational tool for building community involvement and assisting future voters in learning the process of participating in the democratic tradition. Certainly there are changes that others suggest to improve the differentiation of candidates and spark discussion, but with volunteer moderators and varying candidate pools with unique issues, the process is always educational.
Three forums I have had the opportunity to film were the Caddo District Attorney Forum, The Caddo Commissioner Forums and this Caddo Sheriff Forum. All represent a constructive neighborhood association effort to educate and engage citizens in the democratic election process of which we should all accept responsibility.
Citizens all succeed when together we participate in the election processes, but we must collectively engage to keep the process fully open by discouraging any form of bully tactics or efforts to minimize open engagement and questions purely designed to educate voters of issues and facts regarding the fitness of candidates to perform in the offices they seek. It is our duty – every voter, every citizen, regardless of party or any other differentiating quality or value to work to guarantee a free and fair election system. All work to this end is of valueless if we do not vote.