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2nd Ward candidates show their lighter side in run-up to election

Seriously absurd forum offers audience laughs and insights

/Judy Clowney

Could plural politics become singular?  Would it be politic to call politics an illusion? Most importantly, can politics be fun?

Yes, yes, and yes were suggested by “Democracy at Play,” an election forum for 2nd ward City Commission candidates held Wednesday at Dog Story Theater and streamed live. The event was conceived and privately sponsored by master of ceremonies and 2nd ward resident Alex Duensing. 

The three candidates gamely fielded some high-hoppers, and tossed around the horn questions like “What does it mean to feel?” and “Are there times when the public has to be told no?”

Duensing opened the forum by noting he wouldn’t broach policy issues at all. Wearing a floppy frisbee on his head, he issued one ground rule:  “Respect the chill.”

“There’s a zombie invasion and the 2nd ward is the one safe area. Consult as a committee on how to respond.” Laughs, but insight, too.  All assumed a defensive posture. Michael Farage said, “I’m a 2nd Amendment man. I’d grab my shotgun and one of my grandmother’s knitted rosaries.”

When it came to living humans, Milinda Ysasi had a different attitude. She reminds herself not to “other” people. As a candidate, “knocking on doors, you’re always forming judgments.” It’s important to have compassion, she said, and to remember that no one can feel each other’s feeling.

After a game of catch-the-frisbee-and-name-an-animal, Duensing called up some kids from the audience, Desmond and Everett Hoekzema Smith. “Could you explain to Desmond and Everett how sustainability relates to our mental environment?” The challenge brought the reflection from Wendy Falb that sustaining our mental environment means  “we have to understand that we need each other.”

Duensing intends to mount another forum for the general election in the fall, next time including the candidates for mayor.  He hopes to get a co-sponsor, now that he’s proved the value of his seriously absurd approach to politics. “The candidates were able to give a very clear impression of what they’re like—not just their accidental qualities. The audience got to see how they worked together. You got to see behind the masks.”

Maybe even to their limitations. "I liked the zombie question," said Desmond, age 9. "But they didn't have answers."

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