The Governor Debate 2012: The No Panic Zone

Host and Moderator Enrique Cerna

Two minutes and 57 seconds.

That's how long it took to get Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna a working microphone at the Governor's debate in Yakima. A lot of people have asked me what I was thinking as the seconds turned to minutes and still we could not get his microphone to work correctly. Yes, my first thoughts were "OH NO". But I quickly realized that I could not freak out. My thinking went from "OH NO" to "be calm" and "do not panic" and "don't say anything stupid" and if possible find a little humor in the situation.

This has happened to me before, but not during a major debate like this one. Over the years, I have been in numerous 'live' situations where the audio has failed or something unexpected has occurred. As a television news reporter, I had a fellow walk up to me during a 'live' shot and start cursing at me loudly. Another time, a Taiko drum group that performs with large and loud Japanese drums, started playing just as the anchor tossed to me to start my 'live' report. The sound literally shook me. Those 'live' experiences and others taught me a lot about staying calm and focused.

Still the nearly three minutes in Yakima was during a Governor's Debate being broadcast and streamed statewide. It was a debate between two candidates in one of the tightest gubernatorial races in the country. As the seconds turned to minutes, I had to keep my composure, talk slowly and succinctly, and wait it out. Finally, the crew got a working microphone to Rob McKenna and moved on with the debate.

It was just a blip. Well, ok, a big blip. But we got it fixed and the debate between the two candidates happened. It was fiery and contentious and in the end the content of the debate mattered more than audio failure. I apologized profusely to Rob McKenna and his campaign manager Randy Pepple. They were gracious and understanding. The broadcast received a lot of great press coverage. Not much was reported about the audio problem. There were also excellent ratings for KCTS which shows that people care about this type of public affairs programming. I want to also acknowledge the hard work and Executive Producer of Public Affairs Ethan Morris who spent many hours negotiating with both campaigns about the format, staging and even the coin toss to decide the order of opening and closing statements. Our crew deserves a big shout out as well. They put in two long days setting up the equipment and then taking it all down after the debate.

It was a memorable night. Yes, a little tense at times, but I have to admit, it was a lot of fun.

Enrique Cerna, Host and Moderator


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John Urquhart loves to spin. In this debate he says he never said that the DOJ is going to investigate. Yet, the Seattle Times reports,

During an interview with The Times on Monday, Urquhart said that he had heard that the Department of Justice plans to investigate the King County Sheriff’s Office for the way it investigates use-of-force complaints against deputies.
Seattle Times - October 2, 2012 at 11:00 AM

John Urquhart also says that he was never disciplined, yet there is a performance plan after on 14 months as a first-line supervisor following a "Major" IIU investigation. He had a habit of publicly ridiculing officers for minor mistakes and called it training. That investigation resulted in John's transfer out of a position that required any supervisory responsibilities by his buddy Reichert.

Anne Kirkpatrick has a similar leadership style. In 2010 and 2012 she received a no-confidence vote by the Spokane Police Officer Guild. She is solely responsible for the incumbent Mayor not being reelected. But she does have experience with the DOJ. After 5 years on the job, the DOJ came into investigate officer's Use of Force. Author Larry Shook calls former Chief Kirkpatrick, "America's Most Dangerous Cop."

This is an easy choice. Strachan has strong ties with the community as a past President of the Kent Rotary, he has a proven track record of crime reduction during his 5 years in Kent. He is active in the Kent Youth Board and a Board Member of the King County United Way. He has strong relationships with his deputies and with the King County Leadership. Strachan is the only choice for King County Sheriff.


Thanks for hosting the event. In this media world of negative advertising and a lot of untruths, it's nice to know we can hear for ourselves through the debates. Well, maybe hearing it is optional?

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