CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- Cape Coral City officials added recital of the Pledge of Allegiance to their Council and Mayoral debate agenda, after some were upset it was not recited at a debate in August.
In August, during the primary debate for mayoral candidates, one candidate interrupted the moderator during the opening monologue to ask for recital of the Pledge. The moderator said no, because it was not in the guidelines of the program.
Several constituents stood up anyway and began reciting the Pledge. This resulted in Mike Hollow, the candidate who made the initial interruption, to lose time on his closing statements. Army veteran Vincent Stephen was first to begin reciting the Pledge. "We weren't going to argue, we were just going to do it and we did," he said. "Whenever we have a function like that, that involves citizens, government, and campaigns, we should say the Pledge of Allegiance."
Hollow expressed to 4 In Your Corner the move was not a jab at the moderator or city officials. He believes it was an over site on the city's part to not have the Pledge as part of the agenda. "We're a purple heart city. If we can't even to the Pledge of Allegiance as a purple heart city, what are we saying to the men and women, what are we saying to the veterans, what are we saying to those who want to come here?" Hollow said.
Opponent Joe Coviello said he would support adding the Pledge as well. He sent 4 In Your Corner the following statement:
"Having two sons as Navy officers, I have great respect for our country, our flag, and our Pledge of Allegiance. I support it being added to the forum agenda."
4 In Your Corner spoke with a representative for the city, who said this was in no way, shape, or form meant to disrespect the flag or the Pledge. She explained the Pledge was just never in the original agenda when they first started doing candidate forums. Spokesperson Connie Barron sent the following statement:
"We have been providing these forums since 2000. Citing the Pledge has not been part of our debate format since inception, and we certainly have not excluded the Pledge as a slight or disrespect for our Flag.
This candidate forum is simply that - a forum. It is not an official meeting of any group or body, which is where one would expect to cite the Pledge to open the meeting. In fact, most political debates, including the presidential debates, do not open with the Pledge. The moderator does a brief monologue and then introduces the candidates.
During the primary debate, Michael Hollow stood up and asked to do the pledge. It was unexpected but we did. Some time was subtracted from his closing statement to accommodate his request.
The City is providing these forums as a courtesy only. No one has said a word about the “lack” of the Pledge in previous years. We follow standard guidelines used in other debate forums, and the Pledge is not recited at most of these or other major events. We are not interested in generating controversy."
Barron tells 4 In Your Corner they intentionally added the pledge to the City Council Candidate debate agenda Thursday, and will recite the pledge at Friday's Mayoral candidate debate as well.