CBES announced this week the cancellation of their upcoming Candidate Forums.
For over 20 years, CBES has sponsored these Forums, arguably the most important event leading up to our local elections. In the past, they attempted to provide an “unbiased and civil setting that allows each candidate to present his/her position”.
This year, however, they made the decision to partner with the local sorority community. According to CBES, they “felt it was important to work with the sororities because they provided a broader reach into the African American community, and they represent many of the African American women leaders of the Eastern Shore”.
This sounds good, but perception is everything. While the intentions may have been laudable, stepping off the reservation to woo a particular group, essentially alienated an entire other. Besides, the African American community is adults, the Forum is open to all, and the decision to participate or not should be left up to the individual.
Half of the candidates backed out of the event due to the involvement of the sororities. For those who withdrew, the forum became unacceptable due to the perceived bias from the sororities–for those that canceled, it seemed the CBES also tipped its own hand in regards to its political leanings.
Rather than having the few candidates left standing debate themselves, the CBES decided to cancel the event.