Monday night, I attended my first political debate. I was not sure what to expect as I arrived at the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center at Penn State York. I didn’t even know if I’d get a seat: All the parking lots were full. Fortunately, not everyone parked went to the debate.
I had never heard of a debate with three participants, but all three candidates running for House of Representative of the 19th District were there: Phil Avillo, political science professor at York College, was the Democratic candidate; Todd Platts, the Republican incumbent; and Derf Maitland, of the Green Party.
The moderator was Chuck Kennedy, one of Penn State York’s political science professors. In his opening speech, Kennedy said that his students would be grading the candidates’ performance. Avillo said he was glad that York College students from his classes weren’t grading him.
The crowd belonged to Avillo: He got the loudest howls at the opening (Maitland didn’t get any howls), the most applause during the debate, and the largest standing ovation at the end. But many people came with their Avillo shirts and badges already on, so I don’t think Avillo swayed the crowd with his speeches. None of the candidates did.
I hoped to learn new ideas from the candidates’ discussion. But all of the views presented in the debate were the typical Democratic and Republican party lines. Or if that didn’t happen, then all three candidates would portray themselves as holding the same goals and views. Avillo said that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. if they pay fines, but Platts said that “we are a nation of laws