Main Campus plays host to PCN election town hall

The town hall featured a panel that included a former congressman, a talk show host, a newspaper editor and a political science professor.

Pennsylvania Cable Network visited Main Campus Tuesday night for a live town hall broadcast from Shusterman Hall.  The panel featured former Congressman Joe Sestak, Talk Radio 1210 WPHT host Dom Giordano, Delaware County Daily Times Editor Phil Heron and political science professor Robin Kolodny.

The hour-long live broadcast focused on Pennsylvania’s role in the upcoming election. Open to students and community members, the program offered a chance for voters to speak directly with panelists and engage in discussion on Pennsylvania, the presidential election and where the state may stand on Nov. 6.

“I travel a lot around this state…what I see is a purple state. It’s really not a blue, it’s really not a red,” Sestak said. “The dynamics of the race are still strong. At the end of the day though, I think that President [Barack] Obama will win this in a very close race.”

Sestak highlighted the president’s focus on human capital, by means of education, and his continued support of small business as being the campaign’s two greatest strengths. Sestak said these will win him Pennsylvania.

Giordano reiterated the importance of Pennsylvania, and linked much of the recent surge in Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s poll numbers to last week’s debate.

“The real Mitt Romney has finally come forward,” he said, adding agreement to Sestak’s “purple state” assessment. Pennsylvania, Giordano said, could be the difference on Election Day.

Among the many topics discussed by the panel and audience, state-specific issues such as Shale drilling [fracking] and voter ID laws commanded much of the air time.

Kolodny offered a unique perspective on the voter ID controversy, and said that despite heated controversy, the highly contested law brought forth an important discussion throughout the state.

“I think one of the best things that actually happened in Pennsylvania was the whole discussion over the voter ID law,” Kolodny said. “People in this area and throughout the state really got in to a productive discussion about what voting means, about how people should have access, what access means…[in voter ID states], I think you’ll see a turnout dynamic that people are not expecting.”

Many of Kolodny’s students turned out to engage in the discussion, including Joe Harrington, a junior political science and sociology major. Harrington said he enjoyed the exchange between the panel and audience, and emphasized the benefits of hosting such an event on Main Campus.

“It’s important for students to be educated about the issues that are happening before making a blind decision,” Harrington said. “And events like this are very helpful in educating voters about the issues that are going on.”

Charles Hansler of Temple College Democrats commended Temple for hosting events like the town hall, and said it speaks volumes of the caliber of Temple students.

“[Hosting these events] shows our relative interest in political issues,” Hansler, a senior political science major, said. “I think we’re more aware, more interested, and more involved than many other campuses and kids our age. Temple’s very up on current events.”

PCN’s town hall segment will be aired live at 7 p.m. throughout the week from different Pennsylvania colleges.

Ali Watkins can be reached at

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