Published in the March 14, 2016 edition.

WAKEFIELD – With nomination papers now filed and the roster of candidates known for the upcoming 2016 town elections, the announced two candidate debates will be going ahead live on WCAT’s government channel on Friday, April 1.

Candidates for Town Clerk will debate questions posed by press representatives from the Wakefield Daily Item and Wakefield Observer from 7 to 7.30 p.m. After a half-hour break, the candidates for the three seats on the Board of Selectmen will face the same press panel from 8 to 9 p.m. Both debates will be carried on WCAT’s government channel. In each debate, a new feature has been added to allow a resident-submitted question to be presented on each round of questioning.

“I have received numerous requests from individuals, over the eight years since we began state legislative debates, about posing citizen-submitted questions to the candidates,” said Producer David Watts Jr. “Since the hallmark of these debates has always been that they are fair and unbiased, and that the questions are not known to anyone in advance, there was often a problem being able to maintain that standard. However, I think this problem may now be resolved.”

Wakefield residents may submit one or more questions in advance of either debate. Questions may be mailed to David Watts Jr., WCAT, 24 Hemlock Rd., Wakefield MA 01880 or e-mailed to Mailed questions should consist of one question per sheet of paper and each e-mail message should contain no more than a single question. Whether mailed or e-mailed, each question must be accompanied by the submitter’s name and address and which debate – Town Clerk or Board of Selectmen – the question is intended for. Questions must be from individuals only, not organizations, and they must not be intended for a particular candidate or personal in nature. Questions will be accepted until March 28, 2016. The questions accepted for the debate will be based only on verifying the submitter as a current Wakefield resident and within the format and rules.

During the debate, as part of the usual round robin questioning by the press representatives, a resident question will be selected at random by the debate moderator. The moderator will then read the submitter’s name and question to the candidate.

“We hope that this new feature of the debates will foster greater participation by Wakefield residents in the democratic process,” said Watts.

A copy of the resident questions format and rules are available from WCAT.

The public is invited to view the debates from WCAT’s front lobby and conference room.

The debates will be recablecast on WCAT’s government channel on a regular schedule through Monday, April 25. The annual town election is being held on Tuesday, April 26.