So I just got back from the Lazarus/O’Grady debate and it was pretty much what I expected.

Both candidates agreed on most of the issues e.g. we need more economic development, we should help fix the mortgage crisis, we should protect the environment and we should be nice to somali immigrants.

In between, there were a number of jokes about big families (Cindy has 9 siblings and John has 11) and about hair- or lack of it- with Cindy Lazarus at one point offering to shave her head if that’s what it takes to be County Commissioner.

But when it came down to differentiating themselves, Cindy spoke about her 20+ years of experience and John, of course, talked about how he was the ‘endorsed’ candidate and how he would be a full-time commissioner- a hit against Cindy who says she’ll continue working with the YWCA if elected county commissioner.

At one point an obvious O’Grady supporter even got up to the microphone during the open questions segment and asked the candidates if they would serve full time as county commissioner- a question John O’Grady seemed more than prepared to answer.

There was, however, one question Mr. O’Grady wasn’t ready for- and one in which he totally dropped the ball.

The question was, basically, should there be two primary candidates in the race- a reference to the aggressive attempt by the O’Grady campaign, along with county and state party leaders, to drive Cindy Lazarus out of the race.

Cindy remarked that “we should not be punishing people and bullying people because they dare to offer themselves to the voters.”

John tried to deny having any part in the bullying process saying “this is a fight between she (sic) and the democratic party and I don’t know where I play a role in that.”

But Cindy turned right back around and let him have it: “I think it is utterly disingenuous for the endorsed candidate to operate out of party headquarters and to have the party conduct a campaign that is injurious to the process and injurious to my reputation and then say ‘it wasn’t me’.”

Listen to the Audio… [audio:]

All of Cindy’s responses to this question were met by loud applause- and rightfully so. The O’Grady campaign and the party HAVE been working very hard to bully Cindy out of this race and, in the process, to keep Franklin County’s Democratic voters from having a say in who they want as their candidate.

I was really glad to find out so many other people in the room feel the same way- hopefully they, too, will be voting for Cindy.

Overall, both candidates performed well and I think either one will make a good county commissioner. But, after seeing them both, I’m sticking with Lazarus.