With just two and a half weeks to go before the 2018 campaign season closes, there are no indications that Chapala’s seven mayoral candidates will face off in a live public debate.
So far, the most effective form to measure and compare the proposals and demeanor of the individual politicians has been the series of discussion sessions with high school students hosted by the Preparatoria Regional.
One by one, six of the candidates faced questions lodged by teenage constituents during the Diálogos Educativos program held on different dates between May 23 and 30. At each session the guest candidates were allowed 20 minutes to introduce themselves and their platforms, followed by a 40-minute question and answer period and five minutes for closing remarks. Each candidate signed a written act confirming campaign pledges to the student audience.
The format was designed to specifically delve into proposed policies regarding education and culture. However, students selected to moderate the forums gave some latitude for addressing controversial but pertinent side issues that clearly put two of the campaign frontrunners on the spot.
Both Movimiento Ciudadano (MC) candidate Moy Anaya, appearing May 23, and Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) contender for re-election Javier Degollado, following on May 28, were asked to explain their postures on the violent confrontation that occurred earlier in the month between their respective supporters.
Countering Degollado’s public declarations implying that the brawl had been orchestrated by MC activists to generate sympathy for their candidate, Anaya stated, “I’m not going to have someone on my team shot just to gain five votes.”
Degollado qualified the ugly encounter as a personal rather than political conflict, adding that he has filed a defamation complaint against Anaya for publicly accusing him being behind the henchmen who allegedly instigated the fight.
On another crucial topic, Anaya reiterated his unconditional backing for the creation of a local University of Guadalajara (UDG) campus, while Degollado repeated allegations that his opponent is operating behind the scenes to block the project.
Students also questioned Anaya on his role in the local government’s controversial concessions on public lighting and parking meter services that have turned into onerous legal battles. They asked Degollado to explain his failure to come through on a promise to build a soccer pitch on the school grounds and his administration’s dismal record on government transparency.
Candidates Alejandro Aguirre (PAN), Gerardo Degollado (Morena), Esperanza Mejía (PANAL) and Diego Castro (independent) got off far easier at their appearances on subsequent dates, fielding essentially soft ball questions posed by the students.
Each of the candidates offered interesting proposals to expand on educational and employment opportunities that will allow up-and-coming generations to enjoy greater prosperity. With some variances, all coincided in support for building UDG facilities in Chapala, increased scholarship aid and low-cost transportation services for local students, as well as strong support for the Prepa’s cultural activities.
With none of the candidate taking the initiative to date, prospects for the scheduling of a formal campaign debate are dim as election day looms on the horizon. They will apparently limit efforts to garner votes through public rallies and messaging through press conferences and social media to be concluded by June 27.