Regarding last night’s candidate forum ongoings in Chula Vista and the “booting” of emcee Roger Hedgecock, SD Rostra asked Ed Herrera, president and CEO of the Chula Vista Civic Association, if he might consider submitting his take on the evening. We are pleased that Mr. Herrera was able to respond so quickly with the following, as a SD Rostra guest commentary…
We should not condemn; we should welcome
by Ed Herrera
As reported in The San Diego Union-Tribune today, plans for a Chula Vista candidates forum featuring mayoral and city council candidates, “…unraveled only hours before the function” when MAAC Project head Antonio Pizano threatened to shut down the forum and lock down the MAAC Community Charter School after “…he learned the former San Diego mayor and county supervisor would be moderating.”
And indeed, that is what occurred. Only hours from the start of the forum, Mr. Pizano called me to make these threats which almost assuredly caused the cancellation of the forum of which thousands of residents were invited to, thereby diminishing any hope for a democratic, fair, and educational forum for citizens to hear from and engage their future elected leaders.
Perhaps, the second most disheartening turn of events was the reason for Mr. Pizano’s threat of locking down the school.
It was made very clear that the decision made by the Mr. Pizano to bar Mr. Hedgecock from stepping on stage was purely discriminatorily based on differences in political philosophy.
Anyone who has attended one of many forums moderated by Mr. Hedgecock throughout San Diego County knows him to be a very fair and impartial moderator who is careful never to insert his own views. Mr. Hedgecock is no stranger to Chula Vista as he eloquently moderated a similar candidate forum in 2006 which the local sponsoring newspaper and public hailed as a great success.
Nevertheless, it was with great remorse that I informed Mr. Hedgecock of Mr. Pizano’s intervention at which Mr. Hedgecock very graciously stated that he would rather not have the forum cancelled and it was best that he not be there in order to proceed.
But what was there to fear about Mr. Hedgecock as a moderator? Nothing. Sponsoring organizations, such as the one that I am privileged to lead, went to great lengths to ensure utmost fairness and impartiality. As a matter of fact, it was not Mr. Hedgecock who formulated the questions, it was the local newspaper and two non-partisan, non profit civic organizations. Mr. Hedgecock’s sole role in the forum was to ensure that the train ran on time.
Even so, whether it is the case that one wears their thoughts and beliefs on their sleeves does not necessary make them more partisan than those who do not.
In the end, I am deeply disappointed with the MAAC Project’s Antonio Pizano. I expected more from a taxpayer funded educational institution.
What is more regretful is what our children will learn from Mr. Pizano under his leadership at the MAAC Community Charter School from this experience. Are children being taught to bar the doors and lock different thoughts, beliefs, and people out? Is our next generation being taught to build up walls and divides when it disagrees? Should we not be teaching our children the importance of what our founding fathers and ancestors have fought for, and continue to fight for? A democratic and free America, where there is co-existence, tolerance, and respect for one another’s constitutional rights.
We should not condemn; we should welcome. It is in that condemnation that disdain and lack of understanding are bred. I believe in an America where we bring all people to the table. I have not lost hope in the next generation. I believe it will be that generation that will break down the walls of superannuated, backwards thinking