Moderating candidates
Moderating candidates Night last year (2013)

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 3/2014

One of the many benefits I enjoy as a member of the Foxboro Jaycees is to participate in community development projects and other programs that have a direct benefit to the town of Foxboro. One such privilege is coming up this April 10 at 7 p.m.: Candidates night, on Foxboro Cable Access.

For over 20 years, the Foxboro Jaycees have held this program at FCA, which is filmed there LIVE and broadcast repeatedly until Election Day. (I should note that the taping is not open to the general public due to limited space at the studio).

Each candidate for office in the upcoming election is invited by the Jaycees to attend. Unopposed candidates have the opportunity to make a five-minute statement, and candidates in contested races (for 2014, selectman) will make their statements and will also be able to be answer questions from the local print media. Our own Frank Mortimer will be there, and I am working on securing someone from another publication as well.

And before I continue; there are two important things to mention:

1) The Foxboro Jaycees as an organization cannot and will not endorse any particular candidate, nor can we espouse a particular political point of view. This is specifically prohibited in the chapter by-laws. Any actions or views expressed by the candidates are the views of those individual citizens, and do not reflect the views of the Foxboro Jaycees as an organization.

2) As moderator, I don’t ask the candidates questions and take a neutral position; while citizen Bob has his own opinions and choices and will make them on May 5, as before I will not endorse any candidate in a letter to the editor; as I feel that would be inappropriate.

This is my sophomore year as moderator; last year was a tremendous opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone and be in front of the camera rather than behind a camera, taping the show. I learned a LOT, and found a great deal of prep is involved. It was an education. Yes, I was nervous but I was also loving the experience; I also found, while hosting the event, that as a voter I was getting a lot of good information as well.

With only one contested race and most candidates for re-election running unopposed, you might not tune in. See, while there is a lot going on in town, unlike previous election cycles with red-hot issues such as a casino or dog park, this is a somewhat quieter cycle. For that reason, you might decide not to watch candidate’s night.

However, I would encourage you to watch. Here’s why:

  • The best voter is an INFORMED voter. This forum allows you to “meet” the people running for office (albeit on a TV screen) and put a face to the name, and see what they’re all about.
  • The questions the media will ask the selectman candidates may help shape the decision you make at the polls.
  • Many unopposed candidates still appear and talk about the office or some aspect of the job. This has very informative in the past; for example, a few years back, two unopposed Boyden library candidates took the opportunity to talk about the upcoming (now completed) renovations. There’s still good information to be conveyed. You might learn more about the person, and also about the agency. I’ve watched some of these events and have thought, “Oh, that’s what THAT office does.” Or “THAT is what that person will be responsible for.”

But whether or not you watch candidate’s night, please vote. Even for the unopposed candidates. Yes, it is a foregone conclusion that they will win, but show YOUR respect and support for their sacrifice and service by casting the vote anyway. It’s much appreciated.

Read this paper and other news about the election. Read the columns and letters to the editor and submit your own. Participate in the social media discussion groups.


And above all, be respectful. CIVIL discourse is a wonderful thing.

Watch candidate’s night and learn more about the candidates and their job, and their opinions. Get to know them. They represent you.

If you’re about my age you remember the old “Cosby Kids” cartoon every Saturday morning. While amusing, Bill Cosby always added this about watching the show, “And if you’re not careful you may learn something before it’s done!”

It’s the same with candidate’s night. You will learn something! Some good info you didn’t have before will seep in. The event will be broadcast regularly during this this election cycle on Foxboro Cable Access; so put the program on, even in the background. Be informed, be charmed by my lovely personality and choice of tie, and seriously: get to meet the folks who are serving YOU and YOUR community and stepping up to be leaders.

On a personal note, may I say thank you to each candidate for stepping up to run for office and help run the town’s business — Your choice to run and hold office involves sacrifice and is very difficult at times, but it very appreciated.

And thank you to the Foxboro Jaycees – where service to humanity is indeed the greatest work of life. I am very honored by the privilege of moderating this event for a second year. The Foxboro Jaycees are so very proud to continue our tradition of serving Foxboro by providing this forum. And the candidates will be grateful for your attention.

So, I hope you’ll watch on April 10 at 7 p.m. on FCA (or throughout the month), but no matter what, please be involved, please be informed, and on May 5, VOTE!

And I usually say, End of speech.

April 10, 2014: Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who made 2014 Candidates night a success. Thank you to Michael Webber, Lauren Bitar, Michael Everson, Bob Lomus, Neil Kaiser, Mike Stewart, Matt Shea, Jess Todd, and everyone at Foxboro Cable Access for everything they do. Their professionalism is evident in all aspects of the production.

Thank you to Monica Fisler for being our timer.

Thank you to Frank Mortimer of the Sun Chronicle/Foxboro Reporter for attending the event and asking thought-provoking questions of the candidates – we could never have this event without such an excellent journalist.

Thank you to all of the candidates who participated. Running unopposed or in a contested race, all of you demonstrated a love of this town and a sincere desire to serve this community. No matter where you stand on any issue, no matter your ideology, you all should be so proud to know you make a difference. Running for any office takes courage and personal sacrifice, and our town appreciates your example of great community service, win or lose.

Finally, to the voters of Foxboro, for over twenty years the Jaycees have put on this event to assist you in making informed choices. Please watch the broadcast on FCA (or their web site, read the newspapers, visit the candidate web sites, follow the candidates and learn where they stand on the issues that matter to you. BE INFORMED.

Per our bylaws, the Jaycees cannot endorse any candidate, but we do encourage you to cherish your sacred privilege of VOTING – and encourage you to go to the polls and VOTE this May 5, 2014.

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