Local community leaders and voters gathered last night to launch a nonpartisan organization that sets a higher standard for debates in local races. The Commission on Local Debates (CLD), founded by Gregory Eisenberg and Natalie Martinez, aims to strengthen debates as a voter communication channel to create a better informed local electorate. Notable members in attendance include Dick Batchelor, Linda Chapin, Andrae Bailey, Chief John Mina, and Ted Edwards.
“I experienced the problem first hand,” stated Co-Founder and President, Gregory Eisenberg, who was a former Orange County Commissioner candidate in 2016. “Debates should be a meaningful platform for candidates to distinguish themselves from their opponents by demonstrating their aptitude for office and political ideology. The debates currently held are not always nonpartisan and they are failing to reach voters.”
“Our goal is at least one CLD quality debate in every district race,” says Co-Founder and Vice President, Natalie Martinez. “We have created standards that include the leveraging of the latest technology and tools, superior audio and video quality for our debates, nonpartisan selected questions and moderation, an open media policy, and most importantly, ensuring an aggressive constituency outreach plan for each debate. We want to engage more local voters.”
The Commission on Local Debates is modeled after the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), therefore, receives no funding or input from the government or any political party, political action committee, or candidate. Another similarity is that CLD catalogs all debate video, audio, and transcriptions as a resource for constituents and media. Uniquely however, the Commission remains nonpartisan by maintaining a board membership ratio that is equal parts Republican and Democrat, with an odd number and a defined portion of the overall board not being affiliated with either of those parties. Board members are community leaders committed to expanding civic engagement at the local level.
Eisenberg and Martinez are leading the Commission on Local Debates Florida, the statewide 501(c)(3) organization that will produce a debate for both the U.S. Senate and FL Governor races, while simultaneously growing the reach of countywide chapters. The first chapter to be founded is Orange County with plans to expand throughout and out of Florida in 2018. Both boards are accepting Board of Director applications at www.localdebates.org/join-our-board.