RMU media management class hosts Executive Decision: 2011

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Emily Kuklish

RMU’s Media Management class organized the entire debate from start to finish.

Ellen Lichius, Assistant Opinions Editor

On Thursday, Oct. 27, Robert Morris University’s Media Management class hosted “Executive Decision: 2011.” This debate, which was held in the Academic Media Center, gave RMU students a first-hand look at Allegheny County Executive candidates D. Raja (Republican) and Rich Fitzgerald (Democrat).

The Media Management class chose to organize, produce, and broadcast this event from start to finish, and was graded on its production for their midterm project.

D. Raja (R), who originally came to Pittsburgh over 20 years ago to attend college, founded a technology company that employs hundreds of people in Allegheny County and surrounding areas.

Currently a commissioner in Mount Lebanon, he also served as the President of Commission in 2010. Raja believes his role as a CEO in his company will help him lead Allegheny County as Chief Executive, as the attributes needed for each possession are very similar.

In his opening statement, he stressed the importance of the Chief Executive understanding business, being able to effectively manage the operations of the county, and how his prior experiences will assist him in the administration of Allegheny County.

Rich Fitzgerald (D), a lifelong Pittsburgher, is currently serving his fourth term as the Allegheny County Council’s president. Founder of Aquenef, a local company devoted to promoting water and energy efficiency, he has also been a member of the Allegheny Democratic Committee and the PA State Democratic Committee. Fitzgerald also played a key role in the reform of Allegheny County’s local government by abolishing the three-commissioner system and replacing it with a County Council and Chief Executive.

In his opening statement, he stressed the importance of job creation, maintaining taxes, and creating a working environment conducive to those entering the workforce for the first time.

Justin Downs served host and moderator for the night, adeptly asking the candidates questions on topics that have been hotly debated among Allegheny County citizens. These key issues included the Port Authority, Marcellus Shale, budget reform and job creation.

For the first portion of the program, audiences heard pre-taped opening statements from both candidates and got a chance to hear Raja’s responses to questions dealing with transportation, job creation and tax reform.

Arriving late because of a prior commitment, Fitzgerald joined the debate halfway through, and the debate heated up.

Debating Marcellus Shale, public transit, the drink tax and the property tax, the candidates found little ground on which to agree.

However, each agreed that the other has taken negative stances in regards to the other’s personal lives and that Allegheny County must become a place that can foster the growth of families and create jobs for young people.

Set up as a debate that provided each candidate with one minute and thirty seconds per issue and allowed thirty seconds for rebuttal when necessary, the debate served as a forum to create both interest and awareness in issues surrounding Allegheny County and the current election.

Students were also given the opportunity to meet and interact with both candidates after the debate had concluded.

If you missed the opportunity to witness this dynamic debate, you can watch the recorded broadcast at www.rmusentrymedia.com.