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Guam - The Great Debate isn't set until later this week, but it's already got people talking.  


It started as an undergraduate public administration class project 20 years ago and since then it's been a student-driven effort anticipated by the people of Guam every election. "The Great Debates are our final debates right before the election, so it's the opportunity for the camps and candidates to real in the last minute supports or secure their supporters even further and it's a great way for our students to hear the issues that are really pressing our island," explained Melissa Quinata, spokesperson for the Great Debate Committee.


Quinata says both gubernatorial candidates are scheduled to attend fielding questions on topics such as the economy, infrastructure, healthcare and the buildup. In fact, over the weekend, candidates were given a preview of what to expect, noting, "Actually today both camps did receive a list of sample questions or questions in draft to kind of provoke thought and have them prepared."


While the questions were in "draft form" and meant only as a guide to start the thought process, at least one of the candidates has expressed extreme disappointment. Carl Gutierrez proclaimed, "I think a true debate, especially for the highest chief executive of our territory, to be able to field questions from every angle from everywhere from anyone and be able to think on your feet and give a true answer and not have a scripted response. It's just not serving the people of Guam well."


Quinata says the questions were given in advance during the 2010 Great Debate with Gutierrez and then-running mate Frank Aguon Jr. against Eddie Calvo and Ray Tenorio. Spokesperson Kate Baltazar responds, saying, "This is getting overly dramatic and personal. He spent 32 years blaming all his opponents starting with Governor [Ricky] Bordallo for everything he didn't like. He spent eight years as governor blaming the legislature, typhoons, and God for everything that went wrong. He's been blaming Governor Calvo for fixing the problems he started, now he's blaming students for a debate. That's ridiculous."


Gutierrez adds he believes the advanced preview of the questions are to ensure he doesn't "get out of the box". In a release, Gutierrez accuses Calvo-Tenorio as being a "reflection of the work of their public relations experts and lawyers who surround them and provide them scripts on what to say." Gutierrez said, "So I think it's all part of an orchestration, but I'm not blaming who's doing it, but it's not serving the public well and the people of Guam well."


Baltazar said, "So whether they give us the questions or don't give us the questions, that's immaterial. What matters is the answers."


Quinata in the meantime assures the public that the integrity of the debate is intact. She adds the committee will ask a set of spontaneous questions as well. She said, "It's only a two-hour long debate, so it gives them an opportunity prepare - you can never truly prepare for anything, you can never truly coach somebody to do anything you would like to see."


The Great Debate is set for October 30 at the UOG Calvo Fieldhouse.