More than a week has passed since the first debate between Fall River's mayoral contenders Bob Correia and Dave Sullivan.
Certainly there is an expectation that in any debate one person will be declared the winner. In this debate there is no doubt in my mind that Bob Correia won the evening. He won it by being more polished and perhaps more skillful that Dave Sullivan. He won it not on merit, vision, or sheer knowledge of the issues, but by timing and rhetoric. This was an ugly debate.
The night's format was billed as a "Lincoln-Douglas" style of debate with each candidate directly questioning the other and being allowed time for rebuttal. The format allowed the candidates to go back exchanging barbs. Correia accused Sullivan of being ineffectual as a representative while Sullivan accused Correia of being more interested in headlines than results. Sullivan accused Correia of working for special interest groups while Correia accused him of accomplishing nothing of note in his 10 years in office. Back and forth it went with each man trying point out what they have achieved for Fall River as a state rep while discrediting the other.
While there might have been some entertainment to watching each man attempt to beat down the other and perhaps a smidgen of relevancy it came at the cost of not truly discussing how either man would effect positive change if elected.
What came across loud and clear is there is an extreme dislike for one another between these two men and that concerns me because one man will be our next mayor and have to work with the other man as one of our state reps.
It's interesting that I walked away thinking that both men needed to work on the image they presented that night. Sullivan needs to work on polishing his delivery. There are key points that he must articulate with passion and conviction, too often he seemed to be searching for the words that he should know by heart. Correia on the other hand is polished and didn't suffer from Sullivan's habit of referencing his text. Correia even delivered his points with conviction, but he comes off as uninspiring and extremely arrogant. It's a stark contrast after 12 years of affable, charismatic Ed Lambert. Perhaps Bob was just trying to play 'tough guy' against Dave Sullivan but it was extremely off putting.
Tomorrow is the next debate between these two men. Let's hope that they focus more a being Mayor of Fall River and less on being State Representative. Let's hope they spend less time telling me why not to vote for their opponent and more time telling me why I should vote for them.