Friday, July 25, 2008

Analysis: Dr. Marion Thorpe Shines at Debate for Congressional Seat FL-23

Analysis By Yomin Postelnik Pompano Beach

Tonight featured the very best of Central Broward's political leaders. The event was hosted by and by the Urban League at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center on Sistrunk Blvd in Fort Lauderdale.

When the debate was given over to candidates for the district's congressional seat, FL-23, Dr. Marion Thorpe, candidate for Congress, sparred with Art Kennedy, a senior aide to Representative Alcee Hastings and a well known community leader.

Thorpe acted statesman like and began by praising Art Kennedy and saying that it was an honor to sit with him. During the debate, he even went as far as to acknowledge the efforts of his opponent, Rep. Hastings. The statesmanship displayed was unique and almost unheard of in today's political field. But that wasn't the highlight of the debate.

What truly separated Thorpe, not only from Mr. Kennedy, but also from the candidates in another electoral race who preceded him, was his command of the issues. While Kennedy seemed clearly flummoxed at various points, such as when he was unable to articulate a position on lowering gas prices or offer specifics about job growth, which was seen as shocking being that he is a senior aide to Congressman Hastings, Thorpe articulated clear positions about the need to lead the development of alternative fuels.

On the issue of teen crime and education, Dr. Thorpe hit what can only be described as a political home run. While Kennedy mentioned how one congressman cannot affect much as one in 435. Thorpe, again, would have none of that, astounding the audience with a detailed plan to promote financial literacy education and enhance job training. Furthermore, part of his campaign initiative is to promote an educational course to youth that shows them the tangible difference that staying in school and avoiding crime can make in their lives.

Throughout the debate, the stark differences between the two were clear. Kennedy is a privy to Rep. Hastings’ entire record and serves as his key adviser. Yet it was Thorpe who demanded an increase in education as the best alternative to incarceration, an increase in needed programs to prevent ex-convicts from reoffending, a proposal that is both humane and that will save taxpayers hundreds millions of dollars over a very short period of time and better care for our soldiers returning from Iraq.

Thorpe’s greatest moment was when he challenged the government to stop making prison into a business and to begin a true effort at preventing delinquency through education and youth programs. Overall, he was clearly most in tune with the needs of the community and most ready to lead on all issues.

By night’s end, the reaction of the audience was clear. Most had come as supporters of Congressman Hastings. Yet most were deeply impressed by Marion Thorpe. This was most visibly seen, not only by the loud applause at the of the debate compared with the scarce ones upon introduction, but also in the way that those exiting took Thorpe campaign material with them in numbers that far surpassed those enjoyed by any other candidate. Indeed, any objective analysis shows that the congressional debate went to Thorpe in a way that is rarely seen.

People are clamoring for solutions and all have come to disdain empty platitudes. Thorpe’s specific proposals and common sense solutions were both refreshing and sorely needed. We all know that Congress needs healing. It seems like Dr. Thorpe, a medical doctor and Chief Medical Officer of the Agency for Health Care Administration, may be the one to bring such healing to Congress and to a district that has been neglected in many ways for years.

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