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Second District Congressional Debate held at UMFK to air on numerous cable access stations

October 15, 2004

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The Second District Congressional Debate held at University of Maine at Fort Kent on Monday, October 18 will be aired on a number of community cable access channels throughout northern Maine in the days leading up to the November 2 election.

The videotaped broadcast of the exchange between incumbent Democrat Michael Michaud of East Millinocket, Republican challenger Brian Hamel of Presque Isle, and Independent candidate Carl Cooley, a member of the Socialist Equality Party from Jackson, will be made available to several local cable access television stations in the second district.

Among the local stations planning to run the debate are WFKT-TV channel 4 in Fort Kent, WOWL-TV channel 7 in Madawaska, CETV channel 4 in Van Buren, and Time Warner Cable Television channel 9, which broadcasts throughout central Aroostook County. Arrangements are also being made to make tapes available to other community cable access television outlets in eastern and central Maine.

The debate will air at different times, and more than once on each of the cable stations. Local residents are encouraged to tune into their station for local air times.

The debate marked the first of three consecutive evenings of pre-election events hosted by UMFK, through its partnership with the American Democracy Project.

A similar debate on Tuesday, October 19, between the candidates for Maine State Senate District 35 will be broadcast on the three St. John Valley cable channels, and the final forum on Wednesday, October 20 between the candidates running in Maine House District 1 will be aired on WFKT-TV in Fort Kent only.

The October 18 Second District Congressional debate at UMFK has been in the planning since late June, when the University first approached the Michaud and Hamel campaigns with a proposal to participate in a formal exchange on the St. John Valley campus.

The exchange was formatted as a hybrid of the traditional moderator/panelist debate and the "town hall" meeting-style forum, which involves the audience more interactively.

Selected panelists, representing the UMFK community and critical areas of importance to northern Maine, addressed questions from amongst an on-stage audience.

Following a welcome and candidate introductions by University President Richard Cost, Jason Parent, UMFK director of university relations and alumni affairs moderated the forum.

Panelists addressing questions to the candidates included four UMFK students, one representing each academic division on campus, Bradley Ritz, associate professor of business, representing UMFK's faculty, Nick Bayne, president of the Aroostook Partnerhip for Progress, Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board, and Ian Johnstone, a representative of the Maine Forest Products council.

The UMFK debate is one of many campus activities being held on campus as part of the nation-wide American Democracy Project (ADP), which is designed to produce graduates who understand and are committed to engaging in meaningful actions as citizens in a democracy.

"The connection between education and citizenship is both clear and compelling. It is a special connection for us because this university was created to provide bilingual teachers for this territory in order that the French speaking families who had settled the valley could participate in our democratic form of government. When the Acadians moved here, this was still the 'disputed territory' belonging to neither Canada nor the emerging United States. Our existence highlights the fact that education and voice in a democracy depend upon each other," said UMFK President Richard W. Cost. "We encourage our students to learn about the issues, to make decisions and to voice their opinions through the democratic process."

The ADP project targets undergraduates enrolled at institutions that are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

The project grew out of a concern about decreasing rates of participation in the civic life of America in voting, in advocacy, in local grassroots associations, and in other forms of civic engagement that are necessary for the vitality of our democracy.