It's taken some doing, but the debate is on.
I confirmed Thursday with representation from both Rep. Steve King's and challenger Christie Vilsack's campaigns, the details of a debate that will be conducted the first Saturday of the Clay County Fair.
Originally, the two sides were considering a public forum, where each would speak to the crowd at separate times from the stage. I argued the public didn't want any more stump speeches. They want to see the two candidates go head-to-head on the issues of importance to Iowans in the newly established 4th Congressional District in the state of Iowa.
The discussion continued for several weeks and both sides were able to come to an agreement on the conditions, location and time.
The debate is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Clay County Regional Events Center. The time will allow for the conclusion of the scheduled Hawkeye/Cyclone football showdown in the ballroom (unless of course it plays out like last year), some quick set-up and then the two candidates will hit the stage to face questions from the local media panel.
Publisher Paula Buenger and Dickinson County News Managing Editor Russ Mitchell will join KICD News Director Ryan Long, and possibly KUOO/Y-100 New Director Steve Schwaller, to fire questions at the candidates.
Scheduled to last an hour, I will serve as moderator and will be accepting written questions from the audience, and will pose them to King and Vilsack as time allows.
These two candidates are about as different as two people can be and present a clear choice based on the qualities voters are searching for. I've felt it's very important for these two to share a stage and debate the issues so voters could get a very clear look at where each one stands on agriculture, the economy, education, national security, unemployment, social security, health care and the other major issues driving the dialogue in Washington D.C.
This isn't a gotcha attempt at either candidate, but rather an informational opportunity, and I'm hopeful that each candidate's supporters will treat it as such, allowing for proper behavior and respect for both Mr. King and Mrs. Vilsack.
This debate is vital to creating an informed voting public, and I hope you will accept this invitation to take an hour out of your very busy fair schedule to stop by the events center and gain a clearer understanding of the local political race.
We promise to have you out in time for the LeAnn Rimes/Easton Corbin concert, and you should even be able to score a quick funnel cake or deep-fried something or another before the show.