For six years we’ve dedicated our July issue to an in-depth interview with a neighborhood mover and shaker.
Our format is unique, one we’ve never seen tried by anyone else on a regular basis – the entire hour-long interview is transcribed and printed with minimal editing.
We don’t eliminate responses we find uninteresting. We don’t add our own commentary. Instead, we offer you a chance for a rare, up-close-and-personal look at someone who makes a difference in our lives.
Our interview subjects over the years have been Mayor Ron Kirk, City Councilman Alan Walne, RISD Superintendent Carolyn Bukhair, radio personality Mike Rhyner, and grocery magnate Liz Minyard.
This year, we tried something new by selecting two people: U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions and the challenger for his congressional seat, Regina Montoya Coggins.
Both are neighborhood residents, both have raised more than $1 million for their campaigns, and both agreed to sit down for their first (and perhaps only) joint appearance of the upcoming campaign.
We considered a number of changes in interviewing two people – two politicians – instead of one. First, we considered a time clock – limiting responses to each question – but that seemed too much like the television soundbite journalism we’re trying to improve upon.
We considered giving Sessions and Montoya Coggins copies of the questions in advance to encourage shorter, more considered responses. But we feared prior exposure to questions would negate learning how each candidate works his or her way through a non-canned answer.
Finally, we opted to simply ask questions, let whomever wanted to respond first lead off and go from there.
As a result, we had some answers that, frankly, could have been shorter. We asked fewer questions and covered fewer issues than planned. We even decided to stretch the interview over two months (July and August).
But we did see provocative, sometimes testy exchanges between the two very different people, who were seated next to each other throughout the interview. And we had a chance to witness their truly different styles and beliefs and opinions.
We believe this interview offers a unique window into what drives these two individuals, both of whom feel that they can do the best job of representing us in Washington.
Who deserves our vote? Hopefully, our July and August magazines will help us make that decision on the merits of each person’s beliefs, rather than leaving the decision to some television analyst or political spin doctor.