Mayoral debates can be real snooze fests. So you'd be forgiven for skipping the forum Thursday night for St. Paul mayoral candidates.
But people are still buzzing about the strange debate that CityPages called a "clown show."
At the center of the table was Mayor Chris Coleman in his suit. To his right was colorful longtime local political candidate Sharon Anderson, 74, in a T-shirt emblazoned with "Lawless America." And to his left, city Public Works employee Kurt Dornfeld, who stripped down to a "Durty Kurty for mayor" T-shirt after the forum.
The affair had Coleman alternately aghast and in stitches. Among the weirder moments:
– MPR News notes that Dornfeld at one point lost his train of thought and admitted, “I don’t even know where I’m going with this, but I’m nervous as all heck, and I’ve never done this before.”
– Anderson decried school shootings, and suggested that students be given bubble wrap, which she held up and said would be good "therapy" for students.
– CityPages notes Anderson also said, "I'm the wrecking ball – I'm not Cyley Mirus – but I'm the wrecking ball of Coleman's demolitions."
– You can hear a bit of Anderson's opening statement at MPR News. A snippet: "My rod is the Constitution and my camera. And I also am a registered gun owner. My staff is my cane and my umbrella. Don't be vain, walk with a cane. And if you come at me, I'll stick you in the eye."
– The Pioneer Press has a great video of several of these lighter moments, including Dornfeld's close, which made Coleman wince and say, "Oh God, you didn't just say that."
In more serious portions of the forum, Coleman made a case that the city of St. Paul has been steadily advancing in eight years under his leadership, citing the the light-rail line, a revitalized downtown and efforts to close an achievement gap in schools, MPR notes.
Also at the table was Coleman's top challenger, businessman Tim Holden, who made a case that life in St. Paul has gotten worse under Coleman's leadership. He cited potholes, crime, city-involved lawsuits, and lost businesses along the light-rail route.
Holden and Coleman are scheduled to appear in their second and final debate without their more colorful opponents at noon Thursday on MPR News.