On July 28 our local chamber of commerce, WBIR-TV 10, and WOKI-FM 90.3 are co-sponsoring a forum for the five mayoral candidates in the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. Not all candidates have been invited to participate. Of the five, Bo Bennett has not been invited because his campaign has not raised $10,000. That's the financial threshold set by the sponsors to determine whether or not someone is a serious candidate.
It was explained to me by one of the sponsors this way: "Candidates that are not running active campaigns would reduce the amount of time for the active candidates, therefore giving the viewer less insight overall."
Therefore they believe that setting a $10,000 threshold for amount of money raised by a specific reporting date is appropriate to determine a candidate's worth of being heard by the voting public.
I disagree with this notion on all fronts. Bo Bennett is running an active campaign. He's appeared at most every forum he's been invited and his ideas have made as much sense as any other candidate's ideas. I could see if he's not on the trail with the others, but he is.
Additionally, this event is being held in a public taxpayer venue, The Civic Coliseum. Nothing should be more open than the electoral process and exclusion should certainly not be done in a public facility. This is what money has done to politics, even on the local level now.