9th District Congressional Debate Blog

WMCTV.com Web Producer Jason Plank blogged the 9th District Congressional Debate.  Comments appear from newest to oldest. Questions?  Comments?  Email Jason by clicking here.

7:59pm:  The debate concludes.  Thank you for watching.  Video of the full debate has been posted on this page, as well as our homepage, which you can visit by clicking here.

7:50pm: Closing statements.  Each candidate gets two minutes.

Steve Cohen: He has dedicated his life to public service, and has received many accolades.  He has a deep, passionate interest in making society more fair and just.  Crime is the biggest problem in Memphis, and he wants to take his support and his relationships to Washington to try to make things better.  He wants to take his state leadership to Washington.

Mark White: Memphis is at a crossroads.  High crime, infant mortality, school dropouts, and poverty are all hurting the city.  Career politicians are not getting the job done, and are dividing the city.  It is time to come together, take a stand, and vote for a change.  White says he will be a quality leader with values, and that the city needs solutions, not politics.

Jake Ford: He has spend a lifetime preparing to represent this district.  It is not about the person that is elected, but the community that supports the candidate.  Urban renewal, brining our troops home, healthcare improvement, etc., just scratches the surface.  He will support the community equally and be open and available to all.

7:47pm: Jonathan Lindberg asks if each candidate can go to Washington and be non-partisan in a time of high partisanship in Washington.  Cohen says he could, and lists bi-partisan projects has worked on while working in Tennessee government.  Jake Ford says his family has built a lot of bridges before him, and he has a lot of relationships in Washington.  He says he could serve well in Washington.  Mark White says he could represent in a non-partisan way, and will fight against 'wrong,' no matter what party it comes from.

7:41pm: Jackson Baker asks what kind of relationship should exist between the elected congressman and the media.  Jake Ford says he will have an open-door policy, and will be accountable to his community, with a professional relationship with the media.  Mark White says the media is very important, and asks the media to be report on more positive stories, regardless of whether he wins or loses.  Steve Cohen says the media is important, and that he has always had a close relationship with the media...the elected person should always be open and honest with the media.  In rebuttal, Jake Ford alleges Cohen has smoked marijuana with reporters in the past, and that he (Ford) will be accountable to his voters.

7:38pm: Wendi Thomas asks what mistakes have been made by each candidate in the campaign, and how they would correct them.  Steve Cohen can't think of a mistake his campaign has made.  Jake Ford says he is proud to be part of his campaign, and hasn't made any mistakes.  Mark White says the campaign is has been a great experience...no mistakes.

7:35pm: Jonathan Lindberg asks what tough cuts each candidate would make to pull back out-of-control government spending.  Mark White says he would cut back "pork projects" in Washington.  Steve Cohen says he would reduce spending in Iraq and the U.S. Space Program.  Jake Ford says he would reduce tax cuts for the rich.  He would pull back our presence in Iraq.

7:33pm: Action News 5 viewer asks Steve Cohen his position on immigration.  Steve Cohen says the administration has made mistakes with immigration...that the country needs humans guarding borders, not a fence.

7:32pm: Action News 5 viewer asks how White feels connected to a majority black district?  Mark White says people should stop thinking about racial lines, and think about what the community needs for its children.

7:31pm: Action News 5 viewer asks Jake Ford what community organizations he is a member of, and what community service actions he has done in the past year.  Jake Ford says he is an active member of his church.  He says wherever he goes, he represents the Ford family and tries to help people that ask him for help.  He says voters should vote for someone who should be there for him.

7:27pm:  Jackson Baker says that a single family has held the 9th Congressional District seat for many years.  Should that continue?  Cohen said he is not looking for a dynasty, but wants to be elected because he is the best candidate, and Jake Ford is no Harold Ford, Jr. or Harold Ford, Sr.  Jake Ford says Cohen has been in office for a long time, and goes over things he hasn't done while he has been in office.  Jake Ford says the seat does not belong to a Ford.  Mark White says he doesn't care about dynasties, that the best person should win.

7:24pm: Wendi Thomas asks why a majority Black, Democratic community should vote for a White Republican (Mark White).  Mark White says most people aren't talking to him about race or party, but who is best for the community.  Steve Cohen lists initiatives that Democrats support that Republicans traditionally haven't, and why people should vote Democrat.  Jake Ford says Election Day is a day where all people are equal, regardless of race.

7:20pm:  Jonathan Lindberg asks if the race has been about the people, and what issues should be important in the race?  Jake Ford says the campaigns should be about the issues, and a "living wage" should be a high priority, and something he would work for.  Mark White says most people are interested in the same things...safe streets...quality education, etc., and he wants to bring those issues to light.  Steve Cohen says the campaign should be about the issues, and that crime and education should be important.

7:18pm:  Viewer asks Mark White, given that he has no governmental experience, is he qualified to be a congressman?  White says no experience is his best qualification, and goes over his business and community background.

7:17pm: Viewer asks Jake Ford, given his background, is qualified to be a congressman.  Ford says he is qualified, and has answered questions about his past.

7:16pm: Action News 5 viewer asks Steve Cohen how accountable he feels to the majority black community District 9.   Cohen says he has worked in a majority black district in Tennessee for over 20 years, and lists projects he has supported that has aided the community.  He says he doesn't see color, but human beings.

7:12pm: Jackson Baker asks what importance each candidate places in party loyalty.  Mark White says party allegiance is important, but he would put Memphis, Tennessee first.  Steve Cohen says a Democratic majority will help with checks and balances in Washington, but he also has experience with bipartisan projects.  Jake Ford says he is a Democrat, and with caucus with that party, but running as an independent helps him put the people in front of the party.

7:10pm:  Wendi Thomas asks if the candidates would support sending troops to Darfur.  Jake Ford says we rushed too quickly into Iraq, and would need to make sure we had good intelligence before we went anywhere else.  Mark White says we should do anything we can to help people in the Darfur region.  Steve Cohen the United Nations is in Darfur, and that he would support continued aid there.

7:05pm:  First question from Jonathan Lindberg, asking if the comparison of the civil rights movement and gay marriage is a valid one in terms of legal protections.  Steve Cohen says civil unions are appropriate.  Jake Ford says civil unions are sufficient to give homosexuals the same protections of marriage, while keeping the sanctity of marriage.  White says he does not support gay marriage.

7:00pm:  The debate begins with opening comments from each candidate.  Order of statements was chosen by drawing straws.  Steve Cohen says his main goal will be to help with the area crime problem.  Mark White says the community is too divided, and that Memphis needs to come back and support its children, and have a good foundation.  Jake Ford says the community needs a candidate who will be available to the community, and will be accountable to the people.

6:40pm:  Welcome to our debate blog!  The auditorium is beginning to fill at LeMoyne-Owen college, and our crews are getting ready for the debate to begin.  The debate will air on WMC-TV from 7pm to 8pm tonight, and here on WMCTV.com, via a link on the homepage.