Mayoral Candidates Deserved Better

The recent mayoral debate on Channel 10 was memorable more for its reporter questions than its candidate answers.

For openers, moderator Mike Deeson, in the name of pinning down candidates Pam Iorio and Frank Sanchez for specifics, made an intrusive pest of himself. Prime example: the voters were done no favor by his insistence on pursuing the non-issue of the all-male Ye Mystic Krewe through countless, fruitless follow-ups.

Sanchez finally had to remind the Channel 10 reporter that except for some media types, nobody thought this was a relevant issue. Not last month when it was “news.” Certainly not now. The resulting applause was not unlike the derisive clapping aimed at a pitcher with control problems who finally throws a strike.

To take the baseball metaphor one step further, the best-umpired games are the ones where fans are barely aware there are umpires. The players are the game.

In an extension of its aggressive marketing, the St.Petersburg Times , the co-sponsor with WTSP, offered up two of its columnists, Mary Jo Melone and Ernest Hooper, to question the candidates.

Melone came out of the blocks by querying them about their commitment to ethics. Not surprisingly, they were both very committed.

Melone, who had to know Sanchez would get her question first, framed it with a cheap shot. She prefaced the ethics issue by trashing Dennis Alvarez, the former chief judge of the Hillsborough Circuit Court, who is a Sanchez supporter. She then asked if there were a place for “a man like Alvarez in your administration.”

As for Hooper, the thinking must have been: “Why assign a black columnist to the panel if he isn’t going to ask minority-related stuff?” He asked nothing but. One of them had to do with the city hiring a “minority liaison” person — in effect a token. Nice, ironic touch.

The upshot was neither candidate would bite, preferring to cite the need to have a meaningfully diverse administration.

Granted, Iorio and Sanchez weren’t exactly Lincoln and Douglas, but they deserved better than they got. Perhaps no talk-radio hosts were available.

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