The first mayoral debate over Twitter in Calgary took place Tuesday night at 7p.m.. Mayoral candidates Greg Berdette, Craig Burrows, Kent Hehr, Paul Hughes, Alnoor Kassam, Jon Lord and Naheed Nenshi participated. A few candidates said they could not make it but agreed to answer the questions at a later date. The debate was moderated by Kirk Schmidt from CalgaryPolitics.com.
For two hours, from 7 - 9 p.m., Schmidt used the CalgaryPolitics Twitter account to post a total of 11 questions online and gave candidates 10 minutes to answer each one.
Question topics included past experiences, leadership and the future of Calgary's transportation infrastructure.
The debate encountered a few glitches when candidates forgot to add the debate hashtag to the end of their responses. Hashtags allow people to easily follow discussions on Twitter.
Also, Greg Berdette's Tweets were not visible to the rest of the forum, so Calgary Politics blogger Joey Oberhoffner had to re-tweet Berdette's responses to the rest of the group.
Hehr left the debate afew minutes early, saying he had to be on CBC at 7 a.m. the next morning.
Nenshi missed some questions due to technical issues but stayed until 9 p.m., saying he would answer any questions he missed at a later date.
Despite glitches, the debate seemed to be fairly popular and several users remarked that they wished more candidates attended the online debate experiment.
"Thanks to the candidates for an interesting evening!" Twitter user srperry remarked.
"Wonderfully innovative idea, even if does favour the fleet of finger a bit," added RuthSeeley.
Candidate Hughes admitted the debate had a few bugs but enjoyed how it brought an element of openness between candidates and people.
"Well that was fun, had to keep reminding myself that I will get my chance soon," remarked Ward three alderman candidate Gary Tremblay.
Indeed, Tremblay and all the other aldermanic candidates will get their chance to debate on Twitter on, September 21 at 7 p.m..
Schmidt said transcripts of the mayoral debate will be available on CalgaryPolitics.com soon.