Fred Reed believes the CNY Arts Center is the perfect venue for the upcoming Fulton mayoral debate.
But he is being chastised by some in the community for the site selection. Some are saying the site is too small and because only 80 people are being allowed in, he is keeping Fulton residents from participating and hearing what their four candidates have to say.
Reed, of Dot Publishing, an Oswego County Internet news and entertainment company, operates Oswego County Today, an online news site. The company is hosting the debate Oct. 3 between candidates Daniel Farfaglia, Deana Michaels, Ethan Parkhurst and David Webber. Incumbent Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr., who has been leading the city since 2008 (he also served one year as mayor in the 1980s), is not running for reelection.
There has been a lot of chatter about the debate and the venue on Facebook since tickets for the debate were made available Sept 19. People had to go to a link and obtain tickets (they were free), with only four tickets allowed per person.
The CNY Arts Center theater in Fulton would accommodate 80 and the tickets went fast — within a couple of hours. Reed said they were gone by 9:30 a.m.
One of the most vocal on this issue is county Legislator Frank Castiglia, D-Fulton.
“Fulton has just shy of 6,000 registered voters. Dot publishing thinks it is great that they are going to let 1 percent attend a live debate — the first in over 10 year,” he wrote on Facebook. “Usually 20 percent of those registered vote, vote in any election. They should have made a venue with the ability to handle at least 10 percent or 600 voters.”
“Not a good showing Dot,” he wrote. “Limiting the count to 1 percent shows what you think of Fulton. ... SAD. Perhaps another news media will do the right thing and step up to the plate.”
Other comments on Facebook include:
Carolyn Holland — “What about our rights to free speech....how can we make an educated decision on our vote if we cannot ask questions and get answers. Sounds like this needs investigation.”
Linda Acquaviva — “No one, who actually cares about this election, is happy about the selected place. Perhaps it was chosen to show off the new center and its capabilities. Goodness knows the city needs something to be proud of. Or maybe it was chosen to stifle public input. Maybe we should show up anyway. With our attitudes and Ipads and watch it livestream ...send a message.”
Reed said he is going to reach more people in Fulton by holding the debate at the CNY Arts Center than if he held it at a large site like the Fulton War Memorial or a school auditorium.
“We are going to have professional audio-visual production which will be great and you’ll be able to hear everything people are saying,” Reed said. He said the video will be livestreamed so people can watch it in real time on their computers and it also is being recorded for broadcast later. People will be able to go to Facebook, YouTube and Oswego County Today to view the debate.
The debate is set for Oct. 3. The election is Nov. 5.
Reed said doing video at some of the larger sites would have precluded Dot Publishing from getting a high-quality video and audio production. “This will be a well produced, professional debate. It will be a good, professional quality image with great sound,” he said.
He added all four candidates have confirmed their attendance. Dot Publishing also provided a link at which residents could submit questions for the mayoral candidates.
Reed said he also is looking at having the debate broadcast or livestreamed at a larger public venue so more people can see it. He said he is talking with folks at the Fulton Public Library about holding such a viewing event.
“I understand people are upset,” he said. “But this way we will be able to reach more people than having one debate in a gym.”
Reed also said those with tickets are not all city and county officials or candidates’ family members or friends. He said candidates were allowed to bring only two people and government officials had to get tickets the same way as everyone else.
“No one has preferance in going to that debate,” he said.
Carolyn Holland, who posted her dismay on Facebook, worried about senior citizens who may not be as computer savvy to livestream or go to YouTube, Facebook or Oswego County Today to see the debate.
“People like my parents (92 years old) don’t stream anything...they get their news from television,” she said on Facebook. “But, they are still entitled to hear or see a debate for mayor. They have been residents, home owners, taxpayers and there are many others like them.”