Last Monday night, in front of a packed Knauss Hall lecture classroom, Republican Fred Upton and Democrat Mike O’Brien debated in front of the Southwest Michigan community. So many community members showed up that people were turned away from sitting in and attending the debate and asked to wait outside.
For a time length of one hour and eight minutes, Upton and O’Brien debated for the 6th Congressional District seat that is up for grabs on Election Day, which falls on Nov. 6. With the election just weeks away, each candidate battled hard to convince the attending crowd and undecided voters to vote in his way.
“We need to put people back to work,” said O’Brien. “We have roles to look after each other as Americans.”
“We need to get rid of all the loop holes and lower the corporate tax rate to bring back jobs,” said Upton. “Our focus should be getting people back to work.”
The debate, which was moderated by Linda Mah with MLive Media Group/Kalamazoo Gazette and Gordon Evans with WMUK, gave each candidate two minutes per question asked and a one minute rebuttal on a question to redeem his position on the stated issue. Questions that were given to O’Brien and Upton ranged from their stances on the crisis in Syria to healthcare and education.
“There is nothing more important than education,” said O’Brien. “We need to reduce costs and put more money in our infrastructure and teachers.”
One issue brought up was the troops over in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
“It’s time to bring our troops home,” said Upton.
Another major issue debated was the topic of clean and renewable energies and the future of Southwest Michigan. Topics such as wind turbines and nuclear energy were brought up. Both candidates spent ample time on this issue, with this issue making a major influence in Southwest Michigan.
There were many WMU students in attendance, and just as many different views about the both mens’ performance the debate.
“It was interesting to see [the debate],” said Tyler Farrington, a student at WMU. “Upton talked about what he did in Congress. O’Brien seemed to be attacking him.”
“Mike verbally attacked Upton’s voting records and policies,” said George Preston, a freshman at WMU. “[Upton] danced around the topics. There was no substance; just a show. After 26 years, he’s got to go.”
After this debate, it is clear that the 6th Congressional District seat can is up for grabs. With just four weeks left, Upton and O’Brien will be working around the clock to get votes, claim victory on Election Day and guarantee themselves a ticket to Washington, D.C.
The next debate between the two will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 23, the D.C Cook Nuclear Power Plant Buchanan Office Building, 500 Circle Drive in Buchanan.