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The First Ponyville Mayoral Debate! (Open: Read the Rules)

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                                                                                    mayor_mare_sig_by_dignifiedjustice-d49ik


The Ponyville Town Hall was packed. More packed than usual. Indeed, Mayor Mare hadn't seen it so full since the Summer Sun Celebration all those years ago was to be held in her humble village. Ponies filled the seats and balconies with a large overflow standing about facing the stage, where two podiums were set up. Off the stage facing the podium was a single table. The walkway behind them was cleared for a projector recording device- two more were placed, one for each candidate. There was interest even outside of town for this election since democratic functions were a rare event in Equestria all things said. Recordings of this debate would be available to local projector theaters and then to Canterlot- from there, who knew? But Mayor Mare made sure she shined more than she normally would as she walked to the table off the stage to a round of applause. 

 

"Welcome to the first Ponyville Mayoral Debate!" She said as she sat down. One more projector recording was placed directly in front of her so it could record her speaking into it and the audience who would watch this.
"I am the moderator for the evening and the current Mayor of Ponyville, Mayor Mare. Tonight, we are pleased to host primary candidates Strong Copper and Spoiled Rich," she said as the two made their entrances to applause.


"The rules for this debate are clear. I will ask one candidate a question. Once a question is asked, the candidate has two minutes to answer it. After this, the opposing candidate has one minute to respond and rebut his or her arguments. At my discretion, I may extend each candidate additional thirty second slots," she said evenly as she opened up a large folder with various questions written on cards inside, facing down.

 

"Questions will alternate, starting with Candidate Strong Copper," she said as she beckoned to the stallion. There was applause, mostly from the left side of the town hall. "There will be twenty questions in this debate, free of public comment. At the end, each candidate may give a closing statement. And so, let us begin the first Ponyville Mayoral Debate!" She said with a broad smile and clear excitement to the applause of the crowd behind her.

 

"Candidate Strong Copper. What is the biggest challenge facing Ponyville right now?"

 

OOC rules:
1- Once Mayor Mare asks a question, the current candidate has 48 hours to answer. After 48 hours have passed after the question has been answered, the next question will be asked. As long as posting order between the candidates is maintained, they may reply back and forth regarding the question until that time has passed.
2- If a question is asked and there is no response within 48 hours, Mayor Mare will move on.
3- This takes place the evening of May 10th. Campaigning and Other Sins and any and all other related Mayoral Race threads are to take a break but may resume once each candidate has *answered* at least two questions.
4- Other people may post, but they are not part of the post order.
5- The Final Debate is to be held August 1st.

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As the opening question was asked of him, Strong Copper allowed a smile to appear on his face as he made sure to talk nice and clearly so that he could be heard both by the projector and the audience. "A subjective question Mayor Mare, for I suspect that you could ask three ponies who live here that same thing and end up with six different answers." He paused for a second to let the quip sink in before continuing "But for my two bits, I believe that the biggest challenges that Ponyville is facing at the moment and the immediate future are going to be related to its growing population. Not only do we have to ensure that Ponyville can handle all of its new residents, with the presence of the School of Friendship more then just ponies are going to be moving here. I feel like ensuring that all current and future residents of Ponyville, regardless of the diverse nature of their origins, are comfortable and feel at home here will be something the town is a challenge that the town is ready to face."

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It was hard not to have one's confidence be taken for arrogance, particularly when on a debating stage whose only other occupant was a clearly unqualified contestant for the mayoral office.  Nonetheless, Spoiled felt herself to be showing admirable restraint, even waiting for four whole seconds to ensure that she wouldn't be interrupting any further remarks with her reply.  "If I'm being perfectly honest, there was a greater degree of unity than my opponent alleged when I actually asked my fellow citizens that question, but I do believe his answer to be accurate enough.  The real division I found was between those who saw the challenge of growth as a burden to be borne, and those who saw an opportunity to be seized.  I could myself in the latter camp, just as those who founded Ponyville saw the challenge of making a town on the frontier seized what they saw as an opportunity.  So it has proven, and so I am confident it will prove again, so long as we do not allow ourselves to lose that spirit."

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Strong Copper took a deep breath, counting a few seconds after Spoiled had finished talking but before Mayor Mare could move on to the next question. This was a debate after all. "Forgive me Miss Rich, but there is an old saying. The symbol for 'Crisis' is made up of two parts; 'Danger' and 'Opportunity'. While it is completely true that the founders of Ponyville laid down the roots they did because they saw a fertile land that offered boundless opportunities, they were well aware of the fact that they were settling in the shadow of the Everfree forest. While I fully agree with you that Ponyville's growth does offer opportunities as bountiful as the farmland that this town was built on, it still comes with its challenges and dangers. Sure it might be a small problem that few going about their day to day lives would care about, but small problems left ignored or handled poorly tend to grow into big problems."

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As expected of both a prominent citizen of Ponyville and a faithful husband of a mayoral candidate, Filthy Rich was in attendance at the Debate, sitting in the front row alongside his daughter. Mr. Rich and Diamond Tiara acted as Spoiled Rich’s trusted campaign advisors, so as such, it had been their family duty to prepare Mrs. Rich for her debate performance. In particular, Filthy delicately coached her on how to answer... let’s just say ‘potentially problematic questions’. Essentially, anything that could make Spoiled look like the beneficiary of wealth inequality or otherwise paint her as a snob, which the husband had secretly feared could prove to be his wife’s downfall, given her oftentimes sometimes prickly demeanor in the past.


In general, Spoiled Rich was advised in such instances — and other suitable occasions — to point out that the Rich family were the biggest donors to charity in Ponyville (nevermind the inconvenient fact that Filthy was the pony of the Rich household with the charitable heart); and to contrast the Rich family’s generosity to the out-of-touch elites of Canterlot and Manehattan — always easy targets to go after in humble Ponyville. Of course, whether Spoiled would actually fully commit to that populist route was another story entirely, but Mr. Rich felt confident it could be a winning strategy for sure.


However, the one other bit of Rich Family strategizing which Spoiled might actually have had the heart to embrace wholesale was reminding the townsponies of her years of civic leadership, chairing all manner of boards and committees. Sure, some ponies might have griped about Spoiled’s abrasiveness here and there... but Strong Copper had none of that civic experience whatsoever. It was the biggest qualification Spoiled had; even in the instance if Mayor Mare refrained from endorsing a mayoral candidate, Spoiled RIch could still honestly claim that she worked with Mayor Mare on a wide range of issues..... and to most ponies, that would be enough for them to consider Spoiled to be the (popular, we must remind you) Mayor’s heir apparent. Or so that’s what Filthy’s marketing calculus predicted.


----------


Things appeared to be going well for the Rich Family camp so far. Had Diamond not been there, Filthy might have taken a shot when Strong Copper brought up the Everfree Forest; it always seemed to be the subject he pivoted back to the most. Filthy quietly chuckled to himself when Spoiled gave her opponent that clever zinger about not actually asking locals their opinions. If Mr. Copper could be successfully labeled as the aloof outsider, then Filthy was all but certain that his town would rally around Spoiled Rich come Election Day.....

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"Even the Everfree is more than just a danger."  Spoiled did not wait a few seconds this time, wanting to make sure her reply got in before the next question.  "The forest also gave us Zap Apples, which formed the core, if you'll forgive the pun, of the partnership between my family and the Apple Clan, to which Ponyville owed its entire economic viability.  Even today, it's quite important to all who live in this town."  Never hurt to emphasize local knowledge, and the fact that Copper did not possess it.

 

Some of the Apple family members present might be a little shocked at hearing Spoiled speak so well of them; truth be told, if her dear hubby hadn't given her coaching, she might not have.  But, for political purposes, it never hurt to bolster one's reputation by appropriating that of a hometown hero, and of the half-dozen Ponyville possessed, Applejack had the greatest ties to the Riches.

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                                                                                                    mayor_mare_sig_by_dignifiedjustice-d49ik

"Interesting back and forth from the both of you. We move now to the next question," The Mayor said as she turned slightly to face Spoiled Rich. "Candidate Rich, How would you invite Ponyville residents to become more involved with making decisions for our town?'

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Hah, an easy one this time!  Dear hubby must have submitted this question as a softball for her.  With a confident smile, she replied, "Well, if there's one thing I've learned from my own civic involvement, is that when there's a committee meeting posted on the town bulletin board, it behooves everypony with a stake in their discussion to attend.  Not to mention, as a mare who had held a seat on all of them, there are several vacancies which will be in need of filling!"

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Strong Copper had been expecting her to talk longer but... well, sometimes the best answers were short and sweet. "While I do respect the fact that there is a bulletin board in which committee meetings are posted, I see no harm in creating a small newsletter to go out and let residents know when meetings are scheduled in advance so that they can mark calendars and all that. I'm thinking a monthly newsletter so that everyone has access to when the meetings are going to take place and a brief summery  of what issues local government is currently focusing on... possibly with a section where we can publish letters sent in by citizens who wish to raise awareness about certain topics and we can get a feedback from the community about it."

 

There was a flicked of his tail as a momentary thought came to him. "There will also be some lesser notifications sent out if there is a change in schedule for whatever reason. Meeting times or topics having to be changed. We cannot force anyone to take an active role in local government, but the we can at least ensure that the public has access to the information required if they decide to."

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                                                                                              mayor_mare_sig_by_dignifiedjustice-d49ik



"Intriguing comments," The Mayor said as she turned to face Strong Copper, readjusting herself as she did so. "Candidate Copper, as Ponyville continues to grow in size, do you believe the time has come to establish a local police force to serve our community?"

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Turning his head towards the current Mayor who's job he was... well, effectively trying to take, Strong Copper took a moment to clear his throat before he answered her. "I do. Granted it isn't going to happen right away... One cannot just hand a bunch of large sticks to ponies, griffins, dragons, ect and give them orders to 'enforce the law' after all. However, while Ponyville has been blessed by the presence of Equestria's proud Element Bearers, it seems unreasonable to have them deal with every little thing that pops up. Not without working out some kind of payment plan at any rate..."

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Hoo boy, this was actually a pet issue with Spoiled Rich, one she couldn't let go without putting in her own two cents.  "I've long been of the personal opinion that it is well past time that we had some ponies dedicated to keeping order.  We just haven't attracted or cultivated those with a particular talent for it.  I think starting up the office as a volunteer association, like our current fire brigade, would be the best start.  Give ponies with the time and inclination some practice with the job.  When a talented constable shows himself or herself, then we can put them on the town payroll."

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In a move that would normally have been strange for a debate, Strong Copper politely nodded his head in agreement with Spoiled Rich as he added "It might be worth requesting a loan of an experienced constable or two from a city or town that has a more developed police force for a time for the purposes of helping organize this volunteer group, as well as to ensure that training practices for both the physical and mental requirements of maintaining law and order are met from the start. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right after all."

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                                                                                             mayor_mare_sig_by_dignifiedjustice-d49ik


"Security is on the minds of many ponies in these times. Thank you for your responses," The Mayor said with a smile before she turned to Spoiled Rich. "Candidate Rich,  would you allow ponies to be free to request and review the finances of Ponyville's Town Hall if elected?"'

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So many questions about transparency and auditing.  It was almost as if ponies didn't trust her, Spoiled Rich!  The absolute nerve, and she had half a mind as to who exactly was responsible for these insinuations.  Directing a severe look towards any visible representative of the Foal Free Press, she answered with emphasis.  "Oh believe me, there is nothing more that I should desire than the opportunity to educate certain ponies about the financial realities of real governance.  I'm not the sort of candidate to offer ponies bribes with their own tax money; part of the reason my aims are focused on widening the tax base is to ease the per-capita load.  Anypony who likes will be able to see the progress, writ large in black and red ink."

 

And it had to be said, in all fairness, that her aims had nothing to do with lining her own pockets or needlessly monumentalizing herself from the town budget.  Not until she could be certain that statues would not be torn down or lawyers sent around by her successor.  You couldn't be so blatant about political ambitions or corruption these days.  Plus, she was a bright enough mare to know, after that little "incident" over the window and her guest lecturer application, that she wouldn't be able to get away with it.  When all else fails in pursuit of glory, one might as well try to actually deserve it.

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"Of course, I have no issues with being transparent with how my administration would spend their budget. Through personally I am curious about how many spontaneous donations from Barnard Bargains your government would receive Miss Rich." Strong Copper answered, short and simple... and chuckling softly at his playful little jab. After all, even a minor bit of background digging proved where the money in the Rich family came from. 

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Following the introductory question, Filthy Rich felt the debate settling into a quagmire of policy discussion. He believed the fundamentals of the race remained unchanged: that this election would be decided not by how good of a campaigner Strong Copper was, but by how much Spoiled Rich could refrain from being her worst enemy. And Spoiled’s answer on civic involvement left much to be desired; somepony was gonna’ have to tell her that ponies don’t take kindly to condescending speeches about what they needed to do. Mrs. Rich couldn’t get away with scolding adults the same way she used to do with Diamond Tiara.


But a couple questions later, and things suddenly became... personal. Live on stage, Mr. Copper arrogantly implied that Filthy was the sort of stallion who’d funnel questionable money his wife’s way! Mr. Rich was livid; why, a century ago, such a grievous slight would have gotten Copper a challenge to a duel!!! Dueling may have been outlawed in modern times, but that wouldn’t stop Filthy from demanding satisfaction!


“Excuse me sir,” the middle-aged stallion addressed Strong Copper with a collected yet stern glare as he rose out of his seat, not caring that spectators normally weren’t allowed to interject in debates. But by that same token, audience members weren’t usually accused of foul play by debate participants! “Are you insinuating that I, the owner of Barnyard Bargains, would partake in financial shenanigans? Because I’ll have you know that we don’t take too kindly to slander around here in Ponyville.....”

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                                                                                               mayor_mare_sig_by_dignifiedjustice-d49ik

"We also do not take kindly to ignoring the rules of the debate. The debate is not open for public commentary at this time. Mr. Rich, please sit down," the Mayor responded quickly before turning to the candidates. "I will ask that both candidates resume their debate. Candidate Rich, I believe it was your response?"

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Strict debate decorum be bucked!  Spoiled had been preparing a withering response to Strong Copper's insinuation, but her dear husband put the point with more sincerity and apt prose than she could.  And it wasn't often she'd admit to that!  *I'll have to give him a "special" thank you at home after this...*  She thought, with a smile, she was able to maintain a much more pleasant tone of voice as she responded, "I have nothing to add to what my husband said, other than a desire to put my agreement upon the record."
 

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Despite the outburst from the crowd, Strong Copper didn't seem that phased. If anything, he politely raised a hoof towards Mayor Mare as he said "If I may answer Mr Rich..." before clearing his throat and looking at the older stallion. "I was not suggesting that you would be funneling funds for illicit purposes. Merely that if Candidate Rich  started a project that you would likely be the first to donate bits to it. I believe there is a precedent for such a claim in the form of the playground for the local school... and I believe the stain glass window also at said school?" Innocently, he glanced towards Spoiled as he asked "...That stain glass window was a private donation right?"

 

Strong Copper had done his homework. Honestly, while he hadn't been able to spend time with the stallion because... well, the whole election thing, Copper couldn't help but feel like Mr Rich was a stallion he could respect. That said, if they had ended up having a duel he would have likely accepted it and have little issue kicking flank.

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*Deep Breaths, Spoiled, Deep Breaths.  This is what dear Filthy warned you about, he's trying to get your goat...*  As much as Spoiled Rich was telling herself this, it was hard to keep her cool under Copper's needling.  With another deep breath, let out with a sigh, she laid it out with as patient a tone as she could muster.  "Princess Twilight's school is a Private, not a Public, educational facility.  It is funded by the personal funds of the Princess, the tuition of the students, and private donations.  Ponyville proper hasn't borne the costs, but has reaped outsize benefits.  It seems only fair that a prominent citizen among the beneficiaries give back.  As for the playground, it was indeed a donation to cover an expense that normal budgetary processes could not.  The Rich in this town do feel that more is expected of them than would be for those with less to spare for civic functions.

"What I am very much interested in is what problems you have with either arrangement, or if there are none, why such irrelevancies were brought up, if not for the purpose my husband alleged?"

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                                                                                                     mayor_mare_sig_by_dignifiedjustice-d49ik


"Thank you for your responses. I will remind the candidates and the audience that this a debate between the candidates on the stage, not  town hall with public commentary and back and forth. I will ask that those assembled here to watch the debate refrain from any more outbursts and that the candidates on stage do not engage with it. Thank you, and we continue," she said with her sweet tone hiding an unmistakable stern edge. "Candidate Copper. Do you think our downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that?"

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                                                                                                     mayor_mare_sig_by_dignifiedjustice-d49ik

The Mayor turned to Spoiled Rich. "Candidate Rich, your thoughts on the question:  Do you think our downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that?"

OOC- Since the Mayor has turned the question over to Spoiled Rich, there is now 48 hours total left before the next question.

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Strong Copper had frozen for a moment at the question, his mind racing to come up with an answer. "I'm sorry for the delay Mayor Mare. I confess that I haven't had a chance to enjoy Ponyville's downtown for myself to be honestly able to say if it is healthy and successful, nor how I would try and improve it."

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After the rather rough exchange that occurred over the question of finances, Spoiled couldn't help but be somewhat pleased to observe Strong Copper's little stumble over the question of business development.  And nopony could accuse her of any rhetorical shenanigans, either; she'd very much given him more than ample opportunity, and all her could muster was a confessions of ignorance!  Excellent...

 

"I myself have had a chance to observe Downtown Ponyville for many years.  For a small heartland town, it shows every sign of health.  Most citizens do their business there, both buying and selling, my family being no exception.  Being a farming town even affords us a small degree of economic autarky, which is to say, we can stand up to a pounding.  And so we have!"  That could get a few memorial chuckles out of the audience.  Ponyville was famous for its periodic need to rebuild, which had led to the ponies here being quite good at it. 

"Should a sudden economic depression fall upon the country, we have some degree of robustness to pit against it.  What troubles me is some more long-term problems, we are beginning to transition from a small heartland town to what might be called a University City, or Royal Seat.  That has increased the amount of commerce in town, but a lot of that is wealth flowing out, as well as in.  Both necessities and luxuries are being ordered in, rather than being traded in the downtown.  Local production should be expanded, both agricultural and industrial, with each firm or family having some assurance of being able to operate a storefront or market stand in the town.  Fortunately, we are not yet under space constraints as far as real estate goes, though some adjustments to zoning will be necessary to maintain sustainability."

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