Friday, October 1, 2004

Independent voice at forum

Slider spars with Davis; crowd small without Clooney

By Patrick Crowley
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - Independent congressional candidates rarely have a chance of winning elections, but they frequently provide solid foils for the major party candidates.

These forums will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at Holmes High School, 25th & Madison.

Oct. 7: Covington Independent School Board.

Oct. 14: 23rd State Senate District.

Oct. 21: Covington City Commission

Forum series sponsors include the Covington Business Council, Covington Neighborhood Collaborative, Friends of Covington, OASIS, NAACP, The Kentucky Enquirer, Kentucky Post, Insight Communications and the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky.

Such was the political dynamic at Tuesday night's 4th Congressional District forum at Holmes High School, which featured Republican Geoff Davis of Boone County and independent Michael Slider, an Oldham County schoolteacher.

Fewer than 20 people attended the event.

While Davis said he supports extending the individual and business tax cuts put through Congress by the Bush administration, Slider said large corporations don't deserve or need any more "corporate welfare."

While Davis backs the administration's attack and occupation of Iraq, Slider said he would support removing the troops within six months and would not have voted to attack.

Slider would support a modest increase in the federal gas tax to pay for highway projects such as the replacement of the Interstate 75 Brent Spence Bridge. Davis said he supports replacing the bridge but not the tax, saying that major infrastructure projects can be paid for by making government more financially efficient.

"We don't need more big government spending and programs," Davis said.

Even though it is difficult if not impossible for independent candidates to win, Slider said he could appeal to voters fed up with a system that has become "too divisive."

"You have to be labeled as a liberal, you have to be labeled as a conservative," he said. "And then you end up getting attacked by the other side. I don't know about you all, but I'm tired of watching ... everybody biting each other's heads off.

"We need some purposeful dialogue about the real issues - like health care and outsourcing (of jobs) that need to be addressed, instead of who did what in Vietnam," Slider said.

Republicans and Democrats also have become too dependent on corporate and political action committee contributions and wind up being beholden to those who give money to their campaigns, Slider said.

But with the other candidates in the race - Davis and Democrat Nick Clooney - each raising more than $1 million, Slider has little chance of competing.

Davis said raising money is necessary to run a campaign and buy ads. But a politician can still remain independent, he said.

"Political action committees contribute to people who agree with them philosophically," said Davis, the operator of manufacturing consulting firm.

"When the United States Chamber of Commerce endorsed me, they endorsed me because I was already a small businessman who agreed with their positions on issues," he said.

Both candidates said it was a shame that Clooney did not participate in the forum. According to his campaign office, Clooney had a prior campaign commitment.

Thursday's forum will be shown at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Insight Communications Channel 16 in Kenton and Boone counties.


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