PHILIPSBURG--Arts Video Studio (AVS) News will host three political debates leading up to the August 29 Parliamentary Elections on August 10, 17 and 24. The debates will be broadcast live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 15 from Belair Community Centre. All debates start at 7:00pm.
The first debate on Sunday, August 10, will feature the number three candidates of the political parties contesting the elections. These candidates are Anna Rabess-Richardson of United St. Maarten (US) party, Silveria Jacobs (National Alliance), Franklin Meyers (United People's party), Roy Marlin (Democratic Party), and Dennissen Philips (One St. Maarten People's Party).
The second debate will see the number two candidates of the parties pitch their ideas. Those candidates are Leona Marlin-Romeo (US party), George Pantophlet (NA), Gracita Arrindell (UP), Cornelius de Weever and Regina Janga (OSPP).
The final debate will be among party leaders Frans Richardson, William Marlin, Theo Heyliger, Sarah Wescot-Williams, Jacinto Mock (Social Reform Party), and Lenny Priest. Mock is only in the final debate because he is the one candidate of his party contesting the elections.
The first two debates will be two hours each. The final debate featuring the six party leaders will be three hours.
A special debate committee, comprising Clarence Richardson, Terry Woods, Florence Marlin, Mireya Ostiana and Edward Benjamin, has been formed to guide the debate.
Richardson told The Daily Herald the committee will strive for "a high level and professional debate" from all candidates with the ultimate goal that voters are better informed on what each party stands for in their quest for parliament.
Different moderators will take charge of each debate. They will guide the debate with pertinent questions, as well as pose questions received via e-mail to a special account that will be set up by AVS News specifically for the debates. Audience members will also have the opportunity to ask questions.
All parties have been informed of the debates and have confirmed their participation. A briefing for all parties will be held on Saturday, August 2, starting at 2:00pm at AVS Studio in Yogesh Building. Richardson said all parties have been informed to send "people who can make decisions on behalf of the party" to the briefing. The strict and set rules and regulations for the debate will be discussed at the briefing.
The venue for the debates has a limited capacity of only 350 seats. Each of the parties will be allotted 30 seats. The remaining 170 seats will be for the public. A fee of US $5 will be charged for seats. All tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.