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Column: Time for candidates to debate the issues

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If there’s one thing all Hoosiers can share pride in, it’s our tradition of feisty political independence.

The two Republicans in the U.S. Senate were preceded by Democrats, and Mitch Daniels, a Republican who is wrapping up eight years in the Statehouse, was preceded by three Democrats.

Democrat Barack Obama carried the state four years ago; for decades before that, the GOP seemed to have a lock on presidential contests here.

Voters here have a strong tradition of judging the candidates by what they say, do and stand for rather than by what party they belong to.

Debate schedule


Oct. 10, Zionsville Performing Arts Center. A few tickets are still available. Contact Zionsville Chamber of Commerce, 317-873-3836.

Oct. 17, DeBartolo Center, University of Notre Dame, South Bend. Tickets available at center ticket office, noon to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, or by calling 547-631-2800.

Oct. 25, WFWA PBS39 studio, Fort Wayne. No live audience

U.S. Senate

Oct. 15, WFYI studio, Indianapolis. No live audience.

Oct. 23, Ogle Center, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany. Tickets available beginning Oct. 12 at center’s ticket office, Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-noon, 1-4 p.m., or by calling 812-941-2526.

Attack ads, sound bites, partisan rallies, folksy commercials — all of it might help a contender build an image. But the thoughtful voter deserves to hear the candidates square and explain their approach to the issues the voters themselves care most about.

In that tradition, the Indiana Debate Commission will present three gubernatorial and two U.S. Senate debates this fall (including its first Wednesday evening in Zionsville with the governor candidates). Each will last one hour.

Three of the debates will be before live audiences: Wednesday in Zionsville; a governor debate Oct. 17 in South Bend; and senate candidates Oct. 23 in New Albany.

Free tickets to those events are available or soon will be available. Two will be in television studios. Those will be the Senate debate Oct. 15 at WFYI in Indianapolis and the final governor debate Oct. 25 at WFWA PBS39 in Fort Wayne.

All will be broadcast statewide beginning at 7 p.m. And all of them will feature questions from voters across the state.

To submit a question, go to

indianadebatecommission.com. You can also visit its site on Facebook.

The Indiana Debate Commission formed in 2007 and began having debates in 2008. So far, it has conducted eight debates, including a Republican U.S. Senate primary debate in April.

The commission is a nonpartisan organization with one goal: to offer fair, neutral forums where candidates for governor or the U.S. Senate can meet, civilly discuss the issues and have their candidacies weighed and compared by voters statewide.

Commission members are mostly from 13 media and educational institutions who volunteer their time.

Our monetary support is from member-organizations’ foundations and other non-partisan contributions and grants. We use it to pay for statewide TV satellite service and equipment for each of our debate sites. The venues playing host to the debates donate the use of their facilities and help with ticketing and security.

We and the host facilities for these debates work hard to present first-rate programs that all Hoosier voters can have access to for one reason: so you can make informed choices this November.

Tim Harmon is executive editor of the South Bend Tribune and a member of the Indiana Debate Commission.

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