There’s nothing like a hotly contested political race to keep the conversation moving. On Sept. 1, the LeFevre Theatre at Saint Mary’s played host to a lively debate between Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina. More than 350 guests were in attendance, including 70-plus reporters from local and national media outlets. Hagerty Lounge offered overflow seating and a big screen TV showing the debate in real time.

Co-sponsored by KTVU, KQED, the San Francisco Chronicle and Saint Mary’s, the debate provided a forum for the candidates to present priorities and points of view on a variety of social and economic issues.Key topics included the environment, Proposition 8 (same-sex marriage), immigration and strategies to bolster a struggling economy. Saint Mary’s professors were among those offering opinions during on-camera interviews, and the SMC Macken Speech & Debate Team analyzed the tactics and performances of each candidate.

Protestors made their voices heard before and during the debate at the SMC campus entrance. Former U.S. poet laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner and 1963 SMC alumnus Robert Hass, and Saint Mary’s English professor Brenda Hillman were among the protestors demonstrating for peace.

After winning re-election to a fourth term on Nov. 2, Boxer called the race against Fiorina the toughest of her career.

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