QUARTA launching study for proposed Jackson Blvd/Stanley Rd Line 16 BRT, other long term corridor studies announced

QUENTINSBURGH, FREEDEMIAQUARTA, releasing their new 2030-2050 plans, has announced several major corridor studies, starting with a short term study they are launching now for a Line 16 BRT to serve the Jackson Blvd/Stanley Rd corridor, building on the success of the Line 15 BRT serving the islands off the coast that opened in 2016.

Currently, bus route 33C provides frequent (usually about every 6 minutes) reliable local bus service to Jackson Blvd and Stanley Road, and the ALink and BLink select bus service lines, remnants of an early failed attempt at BRT, run along Stanley Rd, providing some limited stop service to the corridor. However, this new plan would call for the construction of a complete busway along Jackson Blvd and Stanley Road, similar to the existing Line 15 BRT running between Shelton Beach, Terrapin Park, Quentins Point Beach, and Hayes Island. Stations will require pre-boarding payment at turnstiles like the rest of the QLine metro system, and though mostly at grade, similar to a light rail, the BRT would run separate from traffic.

Line 16 BRT Corridor Study

One major question the city faces is design. The arrangement of the lanes, especially around major difficult junctions such as Quentinsburgh/Capitol East (serving the Emmerly/Capitol/Quentinsburgh Transit Center) and in southern Shelton Beach (where it would end with the Line 15 BRT) needs to be figured out, and elements like flyovers would likely need to be restrained to the most necessary locations to keep costs down. However, this is a relatively short term project, with the environmental study planned to conclude by the end of 2018, and if the study makes it clear this project will work and demand exists, QUARTA hopes to have it completed by 2023-2025, depending on the amount of added construction of flyovers and stations that would be required.

QUARTA also announced several longer term corridor studies;

  • West Mathersburgh Blvd Corridor, likely BRT or a branch of line 5 from Mathersboro to Haroldsburgh
  • Bond Extension to Kettingdon Heights, proposed extension of line 2
  • Hinespoint Rd Corridor, likely BRT or an extension of line 12; will not happen until demand increases
  • Putnam & Grentens Corridors, likely BRT providing an E-W connection thru N Central Quentinsburgh
  • Greendale Meadow/Greencreek Corridor, likely BRT, a branch of line 4, or a new line branching off line 3 to Gillepsie

Current QLine Corridor Studies (1)

The city of Gillepsie was especially happy about the Greendale Meadows/Greencreek Corridor Study, which would be the first project to try to extend the metro system, whether by subway or BRT, to connect Downtown Gillepsie with Downtown Quentinsburgh.

“We’ve managed to do okay in spite of it, but we’re the only major suburb in the area with no 1-seat metro ride to downtown Quentinsburgh,” Gillepsie Mayor Regina Thompson explains. “Other cities like Northcross, Highfield, Caroll Hill and Franklin Hill, and even far out areas like Haroldsburgh, Mathersburgh, and Horizon Springs have been given direct access to downtown. Why haven’t we? We’ve been well established for years and still isolated. They’ve talked about extending the 10 a couple extra stops to connect us to downtown when it’s finished, but even then, a local only train that runs through all of North and West Quentinsburgh before getting to downtown is barely more convenient than what we have now, and would be even longer than our current two-seat ride on the 11 and 7x.”

While routes haven’t been decided yet, the Gillepsie extension corridor has three alternative modes planned as options right now.

Option A would simply create a BRT line connecting Gillepsie with the Emmerly/Capitol/Quentinsburgh transit center, and is the cheapest alternative. There is a version (Option A2) that would have the BRT also run nonstop from Emmerly/Capitol/Quentinsburgh to Quentinsburgh Union Station, adding the extra service that would connect Gillepsie to downtown Quentinsburgh.

Option B would create a new elevated branch of line 4X that would run to Gillepsie, and the idea of how that would work and how it would affect existing routing is somewhat fuzzy. The QUARTA system doesn’t currently have any branching metro or BRT lines, so they don’t have any clear examples within the system to look to.

Option C, preferred among Gillepsians, would create a new elevated metro line, likely line 17, that would run with Line 3 from the terminus at Quentinsburgh Beach through Downtown Quentinsburgh and the Emmerly/Capitol/Quentinsburgh Transit Center and then branch off around Greencreek to run to Downtown Gillepsie, likely terminating alongside line 11. This alternative would provide local and express service to Gillepsie, but would also be the most expensive of the three. But Gillepsie residents say it’s worth it. And it would likely take pressure off of Line 4 as well, making it significantly preferable to the Line 4 branch alternative.

Many Kettingdon Heights residents are very hopeful about the line 2 extension. Similarly to Gillepsie, the neighborhood has a history of not having adequate metro connections to downtown Quentinsburgh.

“We’re living in one of the poorest parts of the city”, explained Jules Randolph, a father with 5 kids living in Kettingdon Heights. “And sometimes it can be difficult to get where I need to for work. I finally got a good paying job closer to downtown, but the subway doesn’t reach all the way out here so I have to take the local bus all the way in. Don’t get me wrong, the bus isn’t terrible, but it’s pretty slow and inconvenient. Our neighborhood has been a bit neglected, especially considering early plans from three decades ago showed lines running to Wally Cleaver and Kettingdon. They could have given us the service we needed with just a few extra stops built on, but they chose not to. But at least it looks like they might finally do it.”

 

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FIB, Quentinsburgh Police, QUARTA, investigating after death threats toward President Rosenthal broadcasted over the loudspeakers and displays of a Line 3 train

BREAKING NEWS

QUENTINSBURGH, FREEDEMIA- 4:10am: The Freedemian Investigation Bureau (FIB) and the Quentinsburgh Metro Police Department (QMPS) are investigating an incident on a QUARTA train yesterday evening, after the displays and loudspeakers on a Line 3 QLine Metro train began broadcasting threats and warnings towards President Angela Rosenthal as it pulled into the Capitol Mall/National Court station, the closest station to the Executive Residence.

Reports from police and witnesses say that around 10:26pm, as the local 3 train was pulling into the station, the loudspeaker began crackling and the displays on the front, sides, and insides of the train glitched and turned bright orange as if rebooting. After that came about five minutes of cryptic text, including the phrases “hope you enjoyed your reelection, it’s your last term anyhow” and “here today Angela, but soon with the angels”.

Trains were backed up for around a half-hour during the initial confusion, but QUARTA rerouted all Line 3 and Capitol Shuttle trains onto the express tracks and announced that trains would be skipping the stop until around 6:00pm Saturday evening to give the police and the FIB the chance to fully investigate to make sure that there’s no threat to the safety of the riders.

“So far it appears the displays were somehow hacked from the outside. No one operating the train or its displays/loudspeaker were responsible for the incident”, Police Chief Henriette Martina explained to reporters. “But this is going to require a pretty thorough investigation.”

“We’ve had incidents where displays have been glitchy before, and even one or two dumb pranks like the incident last baseball season when some kid made the display of a Capitol Shuttle say ‘Qburgh Quails are looserss heh get rekt noob subscribe to my TubeMe’, but never anything like this before,” Lenny Grent, with the technology support and IT division of QUARTA, explains. “It’s only happened with someone editing what the displays say like twice since we created the newer systems 10 years ago, and usually things so minor that it wasn’t worth investigating too deeply. We honestly didn’t expect something this serious to come up. I believe we fixed the initial glitch and vulnerability on most newer displays, but this was a renovated Q500 train and I think it’s using one of the early display systems, which might be part of the problem.”

President Rosenthal was recently reelected, and still maintains a near-record approval rating of around 80%. The seeming lack of enemies or disapproval makes the incident even more odd in the eyes of many. But security will be high near the Capitol Mall in the coming weeks as the investigation continues.

Vice President Patrick Houser and Vice President-Elect Katherine Nelzer are expected to give a joint speech later today addressing the cybersecurity state of Freedemia and what they’re getting ready to do to address it. While the whole plan is still in progress, currently there are plans to send a bill to the legislature by February that completely overhauls the military to include major cyber security provisions and departments instead of a focus on land/sea/air combat.

QUARTA, QDOT announce beautification project for the “Rail Wall” near Hayes University, taking suggestions

QUENTINSBURGH, FREEDEMIAQUARTA and the Quentinsburgh Department of Transportation announced today that the “Rail Wall”, a commonly cited eyesore in the Hayes neighborhood in south central Quentinsburgh, will be undergoing a beautification project within the next 2 years, and that they are taking suggestions for ways to make the area special.

The section of track “affectionately” known as the “Rail Wall” stretches from Freeman Square Mall in downtown to Hayes University’s campus, and is mostly next to Freeman Road around QMedCtr Warren and Railroad Street (named after the railway, who’da thunk it) just south and west of the main part of Hayes University.

Sketch of the Rail Wall (2)
Location of the “Rail Wall” in Quentinsburgh, generally defined by the area where the tracks for the 4, 4x, and CS are directly above the tracks for the 7, 7x, 14, 14x, AX and the freight/commuter tracks.

Below grade in a sort of ditch along most of the rail wall are FreedemiRail and freight tracks, making most of the roads passing by bridges over the ditch. These tracks had been there before the QLine subway was built.

The wall part is an interesting aspect that comes from the metro, not the freight tracks- there are two very large elevated structures for the QUARTA QLine Metro immediately above the freight/FreedemiRail tracks, as QUARTA used the existing tracks’ right of way.

The first structure, built one level above street level and two levels above the freight tracks, today houses lines 7, 7x, 14, 14x, and the AX (Airport Express). It was originally built for the second branch of the then QUARTA Red Line Subway back in the early 1950s. It being such an old structure, one of the oldest metal elevated structures in the system, it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as many later structures, though some locals have some affection for the rustic burgundy steel.

The second structure, built one level above the tracks for the 7, 14, and AX, houses lines 4, 4x, and the Capitol Shuttle. Constructed in 2015 as a pre-Pancontinental Games extension of the 4 and 4x was completed, it was controversial at the time of building, and in many ways still is.

The decision to extend the 4 and 4x was made back in 2005, originally just planned as an extension running roughly under 9th Street connecting to the Freeman Square station (7)(7x)(14)(14x). However, demand from Hayes University students who wanted a better connection to the 2, 4, and 5, pushed for the extension to reach all the way to campus. This forced QUARTA to build a section of track essentially parallel to the existing tracks because the capacity of one set of tracks was roughly three major lines. Eventually, the Capitol Shuttle would also be extended to the campus, and both lines would share the new structure and terminate at Thurman/Hayes University (4)(4x)(7)(7x)(14)(14x)(CS)(AX).

With the new structure being nearly brand new, more design and decorative thought went into it and it is generally seen as more aesthetically pleasing than the older structure below, and renovations to the stations on the older platform have made them fit with the historical architecture of the neighboring campus . However, the two structures together still make up a 3-4 story wall of train structures- which most living in the area consider an eyesore.

Sketch of the Rail Wall
A sketch of the “Rail Wall” near the Hayes University campus. The multiple structures and levels are visible here.

A couple ideas have come in so far. One suggestion included murals of the Hayes University campus and the Hawks mascot and other artwork. Another was just to do cosmetic work to the structure and build a shell that fits the campus and neighborhood’s architecture better. A third one suggested plant walls on both sides of the tracks.

Whatever designs are chosen, the design will be split into two spaces with differing themes, one to reflect the Hayes University campus, and the other to reflect the Warrens Square neighborhood. QUARTA and QDOT will continue to take suggestions through the end of the year.

Tweetbook CEO Katherine Nelzer, Incumbent President Angela Rosenthal, take 1st, 2nd place in 2018 Freedemian Presidential Election

QUENTINSBURGH- The official results of Monday’s election for 2018 Freedemian President have come in after a complete hand vote to check against the digital vote was completed.

Tweetbook CEO Katherine Nelzer came in first place with 31.8% of the vote, with incumbent Angela Rosenthal coming in second place with 29.9% of the vote. The two will have a runoff election on Saturday, November 4th to see which “winning candidate” gets the role of president and which candidate becomes the vice president.

2018InitialElection
Results of the 2018 Freedemian Presidential Election. Nelzer and Rosenthal move on to a runoff election for the President seat (runner up becomes vice president).

Incumbent Vice President Patrick Houser had a strong showing, with 23.4% of the vote, and Vandover Mayor Lily Mae Clarington’s controversial campaign did quite well considering, raking in 13.8% of the vote in a very difficult field of candidates. Economist Derrick Barson, despite having dropped out, got about 0.8% of the votes, with Actor Craig Schulderman (who had also dropped out) snatched up 0.1% of the vote.

Some of the remaining 0.1% or so of votes were scattered among many, including a couple familiar names like temporary security committee leader Marco Nelson and Graham State Executive Diane Wooten-Whitaker, both of whom ran for the vice presidential seat in 2016.

Runoff for the “top of the ticket”- Possibly a very tight race

Even just looking at the numbers at face value, it already looks like a close race. Nelzer won 1st place with only 1.9% more of the vote than Rosenthal received.

However, there’s also another factor that makes this even more open to change- with the runoffs, the voters who voted for someone other than Rosenthal or Nelzer will have to choose between the two. With the exception of Barson’s 0.8% that would likely go to Nelzer, there’s about 38% of the votes cast that acts as a near tossup.

Complicating matters further, earlier polls and exit polls imply VP Houser took a massive amount of votes from Rosenthal, considering he presented himself as the other experienced candidate as the current Vice President, and those votes could be enough to sway the election in Rosenthal’s favor. Add onto that the fact that polls showed among all voters 89% strongly trusted Rosenthal’s leadership and 92% believed the country was moving forward under her lead, and Nelzer could be facing a perfect storm.

Rosenthal and Nelzer are both widely popular, and it’s going to be extremely close. With that many votes up for grabs, there is no guarantee that Nelzer will retain her narrow lead.

Meet the last 2 candidates one last time:

Incumbent Angela Rosenthal is currently one of the highest esteemed presidents in Freedemian history, and was the favorite for reelection early in the campaign. Her moves to make citizenship easier to obtain for law-abiding individuals and families; her spending reallocation act transferring money from military spending and elections to healthcare, infrastructure, and education; and her pushes for Freedemia to take its stand on the global stage in technology, innovation, and tourism have been huge steps forward for the country. Rosenthal is actually the reason for the shorter campaign period, as she pushed for election reform earlier in her term including a drastic reduction in funding for campaigns.

Katherine Nelzer has become a familiar household name. Founder and CEO of the social media site TweetBook, Nelzer has become more politically outspoken in recent years, especially pertaining to the growing global cyber-security threat. Nelzer believes that Freedemia is one of the most likely worldwide to be a victim of a large cyber-attack, due to its large and growing global footprint, minimal military action, and lackluster national cyber-security protections. “A pacifist society can still be a secure one. Cyber warfare is a thing, and we need to be prepared.”

Nelzer also believes that in this changing society technology is key. She supports Houser’s pushes for things like nationwide wifi and data, and, like Barson, believes incentivizing the tech industry could be one of the most important moves to help make Freedemia even more of a world leader. She cites Stepstone Technology and BuyGolly.com as two of the successes she hopes to see repeat in tech innovations nationwide, and hopes, like Houser, to see Freedemia become a champion of smart cities as a global example. Nelzer is open to the concept of public-private partnerships to fulfill the infrastructure and technology plans, with the goal of shrinking the government and further growing the economy.

Both candidates have announced plans to move forward with ideas proposed by Patrick Houser, including large investments in green infrastructure and modern solutions for renewable energy such as wind turbines, water turbines off the coast, solar farms, more desalination plants, and lining motorways with solar panels and wind turbines.

PWN Politics- New Polling shows Nelzer in second, Clarington jumps to 4th Place

TRENCHENT, FREEDEMIA- The 2018 Presidential Campaign is well underway in Freedemia, and the 6 official candidates are pushing themselves as why they should be the next president.

Polling had been pretty much stagnant since the first poll in early May. However, recent campaigning for two candidates seems to be paying off.

meta-chart (12)

A recent PWN Poll showed that after a month of hard core campaigning, Katherine Nelzer, CEO of TweetBook, catapulted into second, taking quite a few voters from Incumbent VP Patrick Houser. Incumbent Angela Rosenthal retained the lead, also taking some of Patrick Houser’s supporters. The biggest surprise was Lily Mae Clarington’s leap into 4th place, after having only 1.5% of the vote at the end of June. Craig Schluderman dropped to 2%, continuing his downward trend.

Nelzer seemed like a natural to take voters from Patrick Houser. Both have similar views and similar platforms, emphasizing innovation, health, infrastructure, education, and technology as the next steps. Nelzer, having been the founder and the CEO of TweetBook for several years, is pushing that she has more experience in leadership than Houser’s newscasting career provided him, despite him having served a year as vice president. Houser’s steep drop was a bit surprising, but it was expected that the two would be competing for votes, and it looks like Nelzer’s winning the competition.

Vandover mayor Lily Mae Clarington, after a month of nearly non-stop campaigning to clarify actual stances on things after getting the reputation of an unqualified unprofessional candidate due to her extreme focus on nude tourism and targeting the clothes industry, actually managed to bring up her poll numbers. She’s clarified that her belief in nude tourism is to increase revenue from other sources to fund infrastructure, healthcare, and education while lowering taxes, and that her push to take on “big clothing” is to help the growing small business world of clothes design, manufacture, and sales thrive. More professional presentation and less ranting in her campaigning in cities other than home Vandover has also made her appear more presidential.

However, that 10% for Clarington doesn’t seem to be entirely pushing for Clarington to win outright- Several Clarington supporters actually admitted that their hopes are to propel Clarington into the Vice Presidency, not make her president. About 43% of her supporters said that they believe other candidates might make better presidents, but that they believe Clarington needs to be in the presidential office to help influence the path of the country’s future.

Both Barson and Schluderman seem to have reduced their campaigning and spent more time advocating their ideas. It isn’t unheard of for Freedemian candidates to drop out of the race as long as they are confident their policies will be considered by other candidates. However, at this time there is no evidence either would be dropping out.

Lily Mae Clarington, currently in 6th place in Freedemian election, faces steep uphill battle in her campaign and trouble back home in Vandover

QUENTINSBURGH- The 2018 Presidential Campaign is well underway in Freedemia, and the 6 official candidates are pushing themselves as why they should be the next president. However, in the first month or so, clear front runners have emerged in incumbents Rosenthal and Houser and in Tweetbook CEO Katherine Nelzer. At the same time, one candidate has fallen steeply behind- Lily Mae Clarington.

Lily Mae Clarington was originally expected to be a strong candidate considering her success as mayor of Vandover. It’s not unusual for mayors to run for president- then-Franklinsburgh mayor Tom Morganson ran against current president Angela Rosenthal and only lost by a hair, becoming the vice president until his resignation to be with his family in a difficult time back in 2016.

However, what worked to stimulate the Vandoverian economy is not what most Freedemians want or need, and the social issues she championed don’t come close to the more important things on Freedemians’ minds.

President Rosenthal’s proven leadership and Nelzer and VP Houser’s big ideas for infrastructure have pushed them to the forefront. Polls show Freedemians want progress, to continue developing as a world power. Nelzer pushes cyber security to help keep the nation safe. Rosenthal points to major successes such as hosting the 2016 Pancontinental Games, the first time Freedemia has ever hosted something that big on the international stage. Houser, Nelzer, and even Barson all point to technology and infrastructure being the way forward. Schluderman pushes for Freedemia to be more outspoken and deliberate in not supporting countries with human rights or civil rights violations.

In contrast, Clarington, while pushing for Freedemia to be a world leader in pacifism, mostly pushes nude tourism. While tourism has helped Freedemia greatly, a poll showed 78% of Freedemians don’t think it’s what will move the country forward.

In the most recent poll, Clarington had only 1.25% of the vote, literally trailing “other”, and had even dropped to 4th place in her home city of Vandover, where she’s doing best.

In the first debate, Clarington was largely considered the clear loser- in an otherwise civil debate, her comments drew fire from almost every other candidate on the stage, Rosenthal attacking her leadership and fitness for the office, Houser blasting her expertise, and Nelzer ripping her plans to shrink the military 85% in the name of pacifism to shreds. Clarington dropped 4% in the polls after the debate, going from 6% to 2%. Ironically, Nelzer picked up most of the extra voters.

meta-chart (11)

Clarington has been working hard to try and prove that she’s a serious candidate. Recently, she’s targeted Quentinsburgh, the largest city in Freedemia and the city most known for being split among candidates. Her new ad campaign, “Clarity with Clarington”, tries to show that she wants to be clear with the voters, and she has been making an effort to be more detailed on some proposals. In a recent town hall at the Cardenia Center in downtown Quentinsburgh, she clarified her stance on taking on the clothing industry, explaining it’s not to make less people wear clothes, but to help small business owners and clothing makers across the country. She also explained that her reasoning behind pushing nude tourism so hard is that it brings in large amounts of money that aren’t burdening citizens, money that can be put towards healthcare, infrastructure, and education.

Clarington was also careful to dress formally for the event, unlike some past events in Vandover, which Clarington had done completely nude and the debate, where she had worn nothing but a painted on outfit. While social and public nudity are widely accepted nationwide and barechested equality is the norm, being nude during a formal campaign event or a debate is generally seen as extremely unprofessional, helping to lead to the image of an “unfit” candidate.

It appears her recent efforts are helping some. A poll done after her recent campaign events in Quentinsburgh asking whether voters in attendence saw Clarington more favorably or less favorably showed 68% saw her more favorably after her explanations. However, that 68% may not translate into votes. It appears only time will tell. But with Rosenthal, Houser, and Nelzer collectively taking home almost 3/4ths of the voters already, there may not be room for Clarington to make up the gap.

VANDOVER- Meanwhile, in Vandover, Clarington faces a new challenge- her legacy.

Clarington’s term limit as the mayor of Vandover is up at the end of 2017 (part of the reason why she ran for president). Clarington has actually been a very highly esteemed mayor for several years, having been in office since 2010 and frequently championing favorability ratings of 70% or more. As is custom with successful mayors that want their work to continue, Clarington endorsed a candidate that she knows well, Annette Zirchall, daughter of famous nude activist Harold Zirchall.

Annette Zirchall has largely the same policies as Clarington: Nude tourism, trade, infrastructure, and continuing to be a leader in anti-censorship, anti-clothes industry, and pro-worker policies. Zirchall also champions education, something that goes beyond Clarington’s platform, pushing for more success stories like Jennison Nudist University’s opening back in the 1940s. Laneston and Vandover together constitute one of the largest metropolitain areas in Freedemia, but Laneston is home to most of the universities, other than Jennison Nudist University and Vandover University. Annette pushes for new campuses, including two new community colleges and a long proposed Vandover Institute of Technology and Engineering (VITE), to act as a balance to the liberal arts, nude arts, and arts-centered JNU.

Zirchall is generally even more popular than Clarington, and was expected to be a shoe in. Her education policy lines up with what more than 70% of Vandoverians have pushed for, and, at least in Vandover, Clarington’s policy is seen as successful and progressive. However, things have started to change since the start of Clarington’s… rocky campaign. Zirchall has struggled to distance herself from Clarington, and as support for Clarington has died, so has a lot of Zirchall’s support.

The biggest wild card in the Vandover mayoral race is Caroline Addison, who dubbed herself “the people’s candidate”. While Addison herself is a nudist and has even gone to a couple campaign events wearing just painted on clothes or an open jacket and a skirt, she strongly believes that Clarington’s emphasis on nude tourism and city growth has left native Vandoverians behind.

“There’s nothing wrong with tourism. It’s great, helps our economy boom. There’s nothing wrong with nudism. I’m a proud nudie myself. There’s nothing wrong with incentives to bring new people here. Heck, beautiful world renown beaches, nudism, and one of the best nude arts scenes in the world? I’d want to move here too. But when our leaders put tourists and newcomers over our city’s own people who are here today, there’s a serious problem. I’m here to do what’s right for native Vandoverians, to work on schools, transportation- for residents and employees too, not just the tourists-, healthcare, tackling the continuing public restroom shortage- You know, the important stuff that helps ALL of us, not just the tourists from the other side of the world.”

Between Addison’s surprisingly strong mayoral campaign and Clarington’s faltering presidential campaign, things aren’t looking great for Zirchall. Just the other day a billboard independent of the campaigns went up near JNU in Vandover, with a picture of the moment Clarington endorsed and introduced Zirchall, and the caption: “If this leadership isn’t good enough to lead our country, why should it be good enough to lead our city?” Zirchall’s association with Clarington is bringing her down, and it might be hard to recover. For the first time, Zirchall trailed Addison 42% to 55% in recent polling.

In a recent press conference, PWN Laneston/Vandover asked Zirchall what she thought of Clarington’s campaign. Zirchall didn’t have much of an answer, stating she thought Clarington needs to be clearer on her actual ideas. Zirchall seems to be distancing herself from Clarington, trying to present herself as a candidate with similar good ideas but different leadership.

 

PWN Politics: The first Freedemian Presidential Debate, newest polling shows Nelzer rapidly gaining on Incumbents Rosenthal and Houser

QUENTINSBURGH- On June 10th, Quentins State International University hosted the first official Freedemian Presidential Debate. The 6 official candidates discussed their plans and qualifications for the office.

President Angela Rosenthal, VP Patrick Houser, and Katherine Nelzer all had strong showings in the debate. Coming strong, they talked about their qualifications and their ideas, trying to show why they were the best to lead Freedemia into the future.

Rosenthal faltered a bit on infrastructure and healthcare, as moderator Cynthia Powell pointed out that SRAFRA, the bill that transferred excess funding from the military and campaigns to education, healthcare, and infrastructure, was actually written by former Vice President Tom Morganson, and that almost every single one of the healthcare bills she mentioned had been championed by current VP Patrick Houser. However, she did make a strong argument for how her leadership has helped carry Freedemia for the past 4 years, to a point that while 4 years ago 78% of Freedemians said the country was “recovering”, a recent poll with the same question showed 92% said the country was “moving forward”.

Houser used that as a launching point to talk about his plans for infrastructure, saying that he thinks the ideas in the green infrastructure plan could help move the country into the future even more and place Freedemia alongside other countries who have championed going green and smart city technology already. He laid out his plan, which included large investments in modern solutions for renewable energy such as wind turbines, water turbines off the coast, solar farms, more desalination plants, and lining motorways with solar panels and wind turbines. He also pushed for growing the technology scene in Freedemia, backing up Nelzer’s plan for nationwide wi-fi, smart city technology, and incentivizing the tech industry. On a security standpoint, Houser proposed legislation that holds media sources more responsible for inaccurate reporting, especially where investigations or national security interests are involved.

Nelzer laid out technology and infrastructure plans very similar to that proposed by Houser, but emphasized cyber-security as her primary focus. Nelzer believes that Freedemia is one of the most likely worldwide to be a victim of a large cyber-attack, due to its large and growing global footprint, minimal military action, and lackluster national cyber-security protections. Her primary focus was national security, in shifting a large amount of military focus to cyber-security, as some Freedemian businesses had recently been targeted. Nelzer believes that the Freedemian government is currently one of the most vulnerable in the world, and argues that in this modern age they can’t afford to remain unprotected.

The other three struggled a bit to prove they weren’t one-issue candidates.

Economist Derrick Barson did the best job of this out of the three, talking about how he, like Houser, believes that infrastructure and technology is key, but wants it to be done by private companies in an effort to shrink the government and further grow the economy. Both VP Houser and Nelzer said they would be open to the concept of public-private partnerships to fulfill the infrastructure and technology plans. His explanation on why he thinks the government should be much more lenient on victimless crimes was met with doubt, but understanding.

Actor Craig Schluderman struggled a bit more. He succeeded in showing the merit to his reasoning behind wanting to cut foreign relations with countries blatantly known for human rights violations, and spoke clearly on why labor reform was needed in the rice and mining industries. However, he failed to show much understanding of other issues, including a lack of plans for infrastructure and only minimal ideas for healthcare. He did push for continuing to make higher education more accessible by opening more four-year campuses and community colleges, but this is something already started by SRAFRA and pushed by both Rosenthal and Houser already.

Vandover Mayor Lily Mae Clarington had the worst showing of the night. Her initial statement about nudism and body image was somewhat inspiring, but her rant about the “evils of the clothing industry” became more of a tirade than an explanation. Her plans to cut the military by 85% in the name of pacifism drew immediate fire from both President Rosenthal and Nelzer. Rosenthal pointed out that she only cut military funding because there was so much excess from past overfunding that the extra money was better off going somewhere else as long as Freedemia’s military was only for defense purposes, and that the military was not hurt or shrunk by her cuts. Nelzer argued that now, with Freedemia on the global stage and progressing rapidly, would be the absolute worst time to cut the military, as defense would be needed even more as Freedemia became a more alluring target. She reiterated her earlier plan to shift the military’s focus on cyber-security defense while maintaining a healthy combat defense.

Clarington continued her downward spiral as she started talking about censorship and nude tourism. VP Houser pointed out that while he agreed with some of Clarington’s views on censorship, the benefits of nudist tourism, and on the clothing industry, that Freedemia had much bigger things to tackle that should fall way higher on the priority list of a presidential candidate. Rosenthal chimed in agreeing, stating that she herself is a part-time nudist, but that “simply being a nudist isn’t what it takes to be a president”. Clarington then tried to change the subject to talk about infrastructure, only to get shot down by Houser again, who pointed out that while Clarington claims to also be “pro-infrastructure” and has cited some needs in her home state of Reeds, she has absolutely no plans on how Freedemia should move forward infrastructure-wise.

The debate did seem to have a large impact on the polling numbers. In a recent PWN poll from June 11th-June 14th, Rosenthal stayed about steady at 29%, retaining her lead. Houser stayed about steady at 27% and would retain second place. However, Nelzer saw a huge jump from the debate, and now sits, still in third, at 26.5% of the vote. Barson retained 4th place, but dropped to 8% of the vote. Schulderman came in fifth with 6.5% of the vote, and Clarington would drop to only 2% of the vote, still largely from her home city of Vandover. About 0.7% said other, and about 0.3% still wrote in former vice president Marco Nelson, who is not running. It appears most of the growth in the “other” category came from people who originally chose Schulderman or Clarington. Many of Barson’s voters went to Nelzer, believing she understood the merits of privatization as the CEO of TweetBook.

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