LAKE WORTH -- Palm Beach State College is gearing up to host the Decision 2022: Before You Vote U.S. Senate debate on Tuesday, Oct. 18, between incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Val Demings.
The debate, expected to draw national interest, is being organized by a coalition of nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations as part of the longest running televised debate series in Florida’s modern history. It will be held in the Duncan Theatre on the Lake Worth campus from 7-8 p.m. and broadcast live on WPBF 25 News, the local ABC affiliate and debate production partner, as well as nine other ABC, NBC and CBS affiliate stations throughout Florida. Channel 25’s evening news anchor Todd McDermott will moderate the debate. It will simulcast on statewide public radio, on participating TV stations’ websites and/or Facebook pages, and on daily newspaper websites and/or Facebook pages, with a national rebroadcast expected on C-SPAN after the debate program airs. Alongi Media is the executive producer.
“It is an honor to be the host site for this important debate,’’ said Ava L. Parker, J.D., PBSC president. “It is not only an amazing educational opportunity for our students, faculty and staff, but it also will greatly benefit voters throughout the state. I’m most excited about the experiences and knowledge our students will gain from witnessing this event.”
To prepare for the debate, PBSC will hold all classes and non-essential operations remotely that day. It is a ticketed event for debate partners and their guests with seats also reserved for key College and community leaders, PBSC students from political science and American government classes, the Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College and campus organizations, including the Student Government Association and Phi Theta Kappa, and some faculty.
The debate is the only one between Rubio and Demings before the Nov. 8 general election in the widely watched race. The U.S. Senate seat in Florida is among others up for election in 34 states. To allow more students to participate in the debate activities, the College also is hosting a student watch party from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Public Safety Training Center on the Lake Worth campus. Students must register to attend via PBSC’s events calendar and seats are limited. The watch party will include free food provided by Ricky Wade, owner of McDonald’s franchises, who also serves as president of The Foundation for Palm Beach State College board.
Among those who plan to attend in person is Lorena Martin Reyes, PBSC’s student trustee and an international student from Spain who plans to pursue a career in finance and international business. She said she is excited about the opportunity to learn more about politics.
“I look forward to hearing about ideas and solutions for helping make education accessible for everyone and making housing more affordable,” Martin Reyes said. “It’s a powerful thing to know that what you are doing or that your beliefs can be represented by someone.”
Deborah Arocho-Maisonet, president of the Lake Worth campus Student Government Association who is pursuing an Associate in Arts degree, said she also will attend the debate in person and hopes the candidates will discuss prison reform.
“I think it’s an honor to be able to go to a live event like this,’’ she said.
The debate partners/sponsors are: The James Madison Institute, AARP Florida, Florida Trend, the LeRoy Collins Institute, the Florida Press Association, and the Florida League of Cities, Florida Everglades Foundation and Florida Realtors.
The lineup of broadcast partners in Florida’s 10 distinct markets:
West Palm Beach WPBF (ABC)
Gainesville WCJB (ABC)
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale WTVJ (NBC)
Tallahassee WCTV (CBS)
Orlando WESH (NBC)
Pensacola WEAR (ABC)
Jacksonville WJXX (ABC)
Panama City WMBB (ABC)
Tampa/St. Petersburg WFLA (NBC)
Fort Myers WBBH (NBC)
To learn about the debate and the sponsors, visit: https://beforeyouvote.org/.