There was no shouting. No personal attacks. And very little disagreement among the nine town board candidates present at the event.
As DePauw University senior Tom Kaczmarek, who moderated the debate, asked the candidates questions submitted by the public, each person spent more time agreeing with the others running for office than disagreeing.
Though questions ranged from public safety to the cost of utilities, to managing department heads, the theme that cropped up in nearly every answer to every question was the importance of working together and maintaining civility on the board. This was the single most talked-about issue among the candidates.
One of the most striking responses of the night was the support nearly every candidate offered for the Cloverdale Township Volunteer Fire Department. As the question of whether the town should rethink its agreement to contract its fire department out to the township passed down the line of candidates sitting at the table, each person gave high praise for the organization. Tom Tomlinson, who is running for one of two at-large seats, was the only candidate who did not give an affirmative support for the township agreement, saying, "I don't know enough about it. I plead the fifth." Nonetheless, even Tomlinson offered praise for what he has seen of the fire department's work.
Organizers Delight Coy and Gloria Bergstrom said they were thrilled with how well the forum went.
About three dozen community members turned out for the forum.
One of them was Juanita Newby.
Newby said she attended the event, which was conducted at the Stardust Hills Clubhouse, because it is important to her to be politically informed.
"I haven't missed a presidential election since I was 21," she said. "I'm 77 years old."
Daniel Inlow, who is running for a Ward One council seat and John Davis, a current board member and Ward Two candidate, were the only two candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot in Cloverdale who did not attend the forum. Inlow, however, sent several copies of a statement outlining his priorities and qualifications and apologized in writing for not being able to attend the meeting.
This was the first of three candidate forums set for the town. The next will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23 in the same location.
The Greencastle League of Women's Voters is partnering with the BannerGraphic and WREB to host a third debate 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30 in the Cloverdale High School Cafetorium.