Kyle Troutman: Join us for Friday’s forum

Have you ever lost sleep from a mixture of excitement and anxiety?

Such has been the case for me the past couple nights as my mind has raced and raced in anticipation of this Friday, when the Cassville Democrat will host its first political forum under Troutman Media LLC ownership.

At 7 p.m. at the FEMA Event Center (across from Wildcat Stadium) on Friday, the three remaining candidates for Barry County Sheriff — Incumbent Danny Boyd and challengers Randy Kalbaugh and James Morgan — are set to answer fresh questions (different from the 21 already posed in questionnaires in the last four weeks) in front of a live audience.

Though this is my first time hosting a forum myself, I have been involved in two newspaper sponsored debates in years past, both under my former boss, Jacob Brower.

The first was in one in Searcy, Ark., while I was just a cub reporter at The Daily Citizen. The State House race between Republican Mark Biviano and Democrat Kyle Osborne drew considerable interest in Searcy, but outside of remembering the location and taking photos at the pre-debate meeting, most details are lost in my mind.

In more recent memory was the debate the Democrat hosted under Brower’s leadership in 2016, a two-man event with Republican Gary Davis and Democrat Dave Ruark.

That was an interesting election due to the number of candidates, as there were six Republicans running and only one Democrat. I remember thinking it would have been pretty amazing to have all seven candidates participating, but now that I’m planning one of these myself, I can’t imagine how much of a headache that would be.

Even if you gave each candidate 2 minutes to answer each question, for example, you’d only get four or five questions in total if you allowed for opening and closing statements, as well. I doubt we could have reached very deep into any issues in that few questions over nearly 90 minutes.

Remembering the events of the past is what makes me so excited for this week’s event. With Mike McGuire suspending his campaign due to medical reasons, having three candidates instead of four means we anticipate being able to ask nine questions, bookended by opening and closing statements, in about 60-75 minutes. Tonight (Wednesday), we are meeting with the candidates to go over the format, rules and expectations, as well as allow candidates to ask us any questions about the process.

I feel like I have spent the last few weeks wracking my brain to make sure we have everything in place that we will need, from questions to timekeeping and running our livestream to procuring lecterns for each candidate to use.

Sometimes I wonder what I have gotten myself into, but most of the time, I am incredibly excited to be able to bring a level of coverage to this race that it deserves.

Part of what that level of journalism requires is being self-conscious. I have known of other publishers who moderate debates or forums with candidates they have covered, but in the interest of removing any perceived bias or possibility of bias, I will likely stick to just running the time clock.

I am very excited instead to have procured the volunteer services of Denna Clymer, Division Chair of Social Sciences at Crowder College in Neosho.

Clymer is a History and Geography instructor who holds degrees from Missouri Southern State University, Pittsburg State University and the University of Arkansas. Her field of study is in agriculture and food supply, and she has sub-fields in Latin American and Chinese history.

She speaks five languages: English, Mandarin Chinese, German, Spanish and American Sign Language, and she has an undergrad degree in criminal justice and previously worked for Homeland Security, experience I hope will play to her strengths as a moderator.

She has been excited and greatly involved in the process, and I could not be more thankful to her for volunteering her time for our county residents.

So, if you are free Friday at 7 p.m., we’re looking forward to seeing you at the Barry County Sheriff Candidates Forum in Cassville.

If you’re not free, ditch your plans and come anyway!

P.S. Stay tuned into the Democrat this week and next as more details on the sheriff forum will be released, and we hope to announce another forum on the 18th for Northern commissioner candidates Gary Schad and Gary Klossing. We’re your source for Barry County politics

Kyle Troutman has served as editor of the Cassville Democrat since 2014 and owner/publisher since 2023. He was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers in 2017, and he is a twotime ISWNE Golden Dozen award winner. He may be reached at 417-847-2610 or ktroutman@cassville-democrat. com.

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