The highest-profile race in the upcoming Columbus primary elections is that for mayor.
Incumbent Kristen Brown is being challenged by city councilman Jim Lienhoop in the Republican primary.
The great interest in the candidates was clearly evident April 1 when IUPUC hosted the season’s only true debate. It attracted 400 local residents to hear the positions of Brown and Lienhoop on various issues. About 200 filled the university’s lecture hall, while the rest watched and listened remotely in classrooms, the Summerville Room and the library.
IUPUC also went the extra step of streaming the debate live on the university’s website, for people who could not make the trek to the campus.
As debates attempt to do, this one identified areas in which the candidates differ, giving voters a helpful tool to make their ballot decision May 5 in the primary. They answered questions about important topics such as education, crime, the Crump Theatre, Columbus as a welcoming community and the city’s future, among others.
IUPUC is to be commended for planning and executing the debate. Doing so provided a valuable service to the community, and it was consistent with the school’s mission to educate and be a community partner.
People who attended the debate or watched the live stream showed a level of civic engagement that is crucial to making debates worth the time and effort of the host.
That support shows that debates have an important place in elections — now and in the future.