Ashland Works: Mayoral Candidate Interviews 2020

Ashland Works: Mayoral Candidate Interviews 2020

As the November election approaches, we face a choice of tracks to travel toward our shared future. In this important moment, we wanted to contribute to the community’s consideration of candidates. We believe that the agenda-setting and convening power of the mayor is crucial as we face a variety of important decisions in the coming months.

Our concerns about this election

  • Our situation as a community is difficult and complex.
  • Civic discourse as a shared search for common ground, sense, and solutions needs to regain momentum.

Our assumptions

  • Leadership can make a difference.
  • Conversations in community will likely yield better solutions than a few dedicated staffers and folks voting in the council chambers can create.
  • Understanding what candidates value and how they think is crucial in these fast-moving, unpredictable times.

The goal

Try reinvigorating civic discourse with an experiment in one small town mayoral race. This experiment is to give the candidates space to reveal:

  • Who they are
  • What they value
  • What they see as the key issues
  • How they think
  • How they will host the community conversations required to prioritize our values, cocreate solutions, and organize actions.

The plan

Interview each candidate separately on Zoom to give them space to reveal themselves in the openings questions create for them. Keep commentary to a minimum.

Release the two unedited videos at the same time so that no one can have an advantage by knowing the other person’s answers.

The questions

  1. What do you see as the values of this community?
  2. What are your values as they relate to the communities values?
  3. How are those values revealed in your daily life?
  4. How do you see Ashland succeeding in the future?
  5. What other cities do you think Ashland could learn from?
  6. What have you learned about leading Ashland in the last year?
  7. How do you study issues and arrive at priorities?
  8. What are the key issues that the community should address in the next few years?
  9. What are the policy trade-offs, the competing values built into these issues?
  10. What is your plan for helping the community to discuss and decide about how to balance those tensions?

The conversations:

Note, the candidates were free to answer each question to their own satisfaction. I tried to be encouraging with minor feedback; humans need that to feel comfortable. I also tried to avoid follow up questions to keep the playing field even. The videos are different lengths because the candidates each chose to answer the questions in their own ways.

I hope that you will find the candidates as interesting and engaging as I did.

Thanks to Julie and Tonya for participating.

Thank you for taking the time to understand the mayoral candidates a bit better.

QuestionJulieTonya
1. What do you see as the values of this community?Julie 1 Tonya 1 
2. What are your values as they relate to the communities values?Julie 2 Tonya 2 
3. How are those values revealed in your daily life?Julie 3 Tonya 3 
4. How do you see Ashland succeeding in the future?Julie 4 Tonya 4 
5. What other cities do you think Ashland could learn from?Julie 5 Tonya 5 
6. What have you learned about leading Ashland in the last year?Julie 6 Tonya 6 
7. How do you study issues and arrive at priorities?Julie 7 Tonya 7 
8. What are the key issues that the community should address in the next few years?Julie 8 Tonya 8 
9. What are the policy trade-offs, the competing values built into these issues?Julie 9 Tonya 9 
10. What is your plan for helping the community to discuss and decide about how to balance those tensions?Julie 10Tonya 10 

Julie Akinswebsite

Tonya Grahamwebsite

Reach out if you would like to support this same process for other races or if you have other ideas for building our community.



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