BY STEPHEN REID
BANGOR — The Bangor Daily News hosted its first “Hot Takes” political event at Blaze, Tuesday, Nov. 8, free for anybody to register and learn more about the 2016 election in a civil social way from panelists with political backgrounds.
Since it was the debut of the event, the goal was “to get some questions and feedback from those in attendance,” executive editor and host of Hot Takes, Tony Ronzio said. He felt that the event went well and was “glad people were comfortable” and matched his expectations for what he had hoped the event would be like.
The event started at 5:30 p.m., but at 6:45 p.m., six panelists consisting of Trish Callahan, Jake Emerson, Rob Glover, Chris Cousins, Ben Sprague and Susan Young, sat in front of a room of 38 people discussing Maine Politics Tuesday night. When asked how he thought the event went tonight, Jeffrey Hope, who is a journalism professor, said, “I would definitely do it again.” Nancy Roberts, a public relations and marketing professor, added, “I thought it was an interesting discussion, and all views were shared.” This was one of the goals for host Tony Ronzio.
“People seem to have taken to [the event] well enough. Self selecting audience that is energized by politics,” panelist Rob Glover said. “There could’ve been more audience participation and it would’ve made it interesting, but Tony did a good job of structuring the conversation.”
He was not alone with this opinion. Jeffrey Hope, who is a journalism professor, thought the event and the panel were great, “However the event wasn’t as well produced as it could’ve been.” Hope also noticed that the referendum Question 1 ran long in the discussion with the panel. Many of the audience members, along with the panelists, had concerns on both how the legalization in other states would affect us if we didn’t vote yes, and if the bill required more than a yes or no decision.
For some, this event was something they planned on attending. When others were asked why they attended the event, Shawn Brace, a 35 year old Pastor in Bangor said, it was “Just something to do.” He then said, he “Likes to be involved in the community and likes to be in tuned with what’s going on.” Brace had heard about the event through a tweet by panelist, Ben Sprague, and through a retweet by a friend who was also in attendance.
There were multiple people at the event that had not been sure what exactly they were attending. Some just went there to go. This event showed a difference from other political gatherings because the panel was made up of a diverse political standing, along with the audience. Ken Croatean, a 66 year old retiree from Veazie, said he wasn’t sure what the event was about but seemed like a “reasoned discussion.”
For Hot Takes first attempt, it had shown to be a success; something that Ronzio is looking forward to doing again in the future. There were some issues for the audience, but overall, the event did what it was expected to do: civilly discuss politics.