Stephen Tait at the Daily News does a nice job covering last night's mayoral debate between Jim Stiles and John Moak so I won't duplicate the effort.
But I thought I'd try something different. Instead of telling you what was said, I'll tell you one person's opinion on who won this bout.
I liberally paraphrased the questions and can't give you a blow-by-blow account of the questions. But here's my take on last night's debate. I tried to award points for technical performance (the quality of the answer) but I'd be lying if I told you I didn't also reward style (in other words opinions that matched mine.)
In short, this was my gut feeling on the questions.
If you have your own scorecard supply it in the comments. If you think I'm a loser for taking the the time to write all this out, you're probably not alone but feel free to add that comment as well.
Most importantly, if you feel a position has been misrepresented let me know.
Round 1: If you met with Steve Karp, what would you tell him you'd like to see on his property.
Stiles: Focused largely on opening the process. Said the project should fit into the community.
Moak: Indicated in his answer that he has met Steve Karp three times. Suggested a mixed use.
Winner: Moak wins for actually having met Steve Karp. The benefit of being the incumbent.
Round 2: What would you do to fix Crow's Lane?
Moak: Largely--and justly--blamed New Ventures, the vendor, for fighting the town over every single aspect of the project.
Stiles: Opened up by saying the agreement that Moak inherited stinks. Credited local residents for taking on the fight. Also raised the recent news that toxic materials from Winning Farm in Woburn could be dumped in Newburyport. He requested a copy of those dumping plans from the DEP and plans to have a professional review them.
Winner: Stiles for bringing up the latest news and showing initiative.
Round 3: What can we do to fix the infrastructure and increase services?
Stiles: Not a lot the mayor can do. Budget is tight but city should seek alternative revenue.
Moak: Talked about the plan for improving infrastructure that he submitted to the City Council. Revealed that he meets with a group of five financial professional in Newburyport to identify new budgeting and money management techniques.
Winner: Moak, again the power of the incumbent.
Round 4: Does the city need a parking garage?
John Moak: No. The Waterside group must build the infrastructure to handle all the parking generated by their project. Talked about partnering with Waterside on a public private garage if necessary. Also identified Prince Place as a possible site of a parking garage if we did need one.
Jim Stiles: Not clear if we need a full blown garage, but people want to move spaces off the waterfront. That needs to go somewhere. He advocated having the NRA determine is plans for the waterfront, incorporating that into a parking management plan and then moving forward.
Winner: Draw. I like the idea of building some thing with Karp and the Prince Place lot. But I recognize Jim is eager to get cars off the waterfront.
Round 5: What could have been done to prevent the closing of the Kelley School?Stiles: Said the move made financial sense but didn't necessarily work for the students or parents. Blamed Chapter 70.
Moak: Acknowledged the closing caused some pain but said the high school also took severe cuts. However, he was very encouraged by the new Grades 1-3 school configuration at the Bresnahan.
Winner: Moak. He focused on the positive.
Round 6: Should we have a city manager?Moak: He'd favor a four-year mayoral term and fewer city councilors. Said he's open to anything but he admitted it's a low priority.
Stiles: Personally he likes the city manager idea. But as mayor he promised to get a Charter Review commission started to identify the best measure.
Winner: Stiles, sounds like he'd actually do something to answer this question.
Round 7: What did you think of the proposal presented at last week's NRA Meeting?
Stiles: Too much parking.
Moak: Seemed okay to me.
Winner: Stiles. I agree with him.
Round 8: This is where candidates go to ask questions of each other. Neither seemed to draw blood with their questions. In fact, I think they were better at answering than asking.
Round 9: Is the school budget transparent enough?
John Moak: Better than it was, might not be transparent to all, but interested people will understand it.
Stiles: He thinks the budget needs more metrics to provide context, such as per pupil expenditures in other towns.
Winner: Stiles, introduced some new ideas.
Round 10: Do you support ban on chain stores?
Moak: No. Chain stores can add a lot if they bring the right attitude to the community.
Stiles: Favors a ceiling on the number or percentage of chain stores permitted downtown. Says we should learn from Nantucket.
Winner: Stiles. I think we should be open to the idea.
Round 11: What would you do with the Kelley School?
Stiles: Senior center, community center, and sale should be explored.
Moak: Laid out the steps he took to study potential uses for the plan. Says the intention is to keep it and preserve it, but it would be opened up to an RFP soon.
Winner: Moak. Sounds like he's acted responsibly.
Round 12: What are the three best changes and the three worst changes in Newburyport over the past few years?
Moak: Three positive changes: improvements at Port Plaza, conversion of multi-families along High Street into single family structures, and the energies that went into protecting against landfill.
Stiles: Positives: Rail Trail development and preservation of open space. Negatives: School budget cuts, Crow's Lane Landfill.
Winner: Stiles, although its nearly a draw because Stiles had time to think of an answer.
Round 13: Something about the historic commission having more control over the appearance of buildings in the city. I was contemplating Mike Lowell's contract situation.
Round 14: What would you do to foster regionalization?
Moak: Big proponent of sharing services and equipment with other towns. Working toward that goal right now, cited example of Newbury police being able to respond to calls on the Newburyport side of Plum Island.
Stiles: Agreed with Moak. In that spirit he called Newbury's planning office when he heard the plans to build a senior center at the Little River complex. He asked about the potential of partnering with Newburyport on the effort, something that would help both towns. He said there was no interest(and they want our water and sewer for this project?).
Winner: Draw, both had great ideas. Teaming with Newbury on a senior center seems like a no-brainer to me.
Round 15: How would you improve relations with City Council?
Stiles: Would take a page from Mary Ann Clancy and call--or have a representative call--councilors each week. Keeps small fights from getting big.
Moak: Says the relationship can be rocky at times but it's working.
Final Score Card
John Moak: Four rounds
Jim Stiles: Six rounds
Draw: Five rounds
Stiles wins on the issues in a decision. But he may have needed a knockout.