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Jack Zaleski, Published August 28 2011

Zaleski: A left-right face-off in today’s Forum

Today you’ll encounter two new faces in the Sunday opinion/commentary section of The Forum. Linda Boyd Coates and Scott Hennen have teamed up for a monthly point-counterpoint that also will be presented in a video format on Inforum.com.

Boyd Coates and Hennen are no strangers to most readers of The Forum. Both have been high-profile participants in the life of the Fargo-Moorhead community for many years. Neither is reluctant to speak up and speak out about issues close to their hearts.

Who are they?

Boyd Coates is executive director of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony. She is a member of the Fargo School Board and a former Fargo city commissioner. In that last role, she took on issues most commissioners would rather duck, including advocating for residents of Fargo who usually have no advocates in City Hall. Her politics and world outlook tilt left, and it is from that perspective she will argue issues in our new “Face Off” feature.

Hennen is a familiar voice from the conservative right on radio and most recently in his newly published book about the tea party movement. If there is any doubt about his ideological bent, consider this: When he takes a walk in the morning, he always walks north so the sunrise is on his right. (Just kidding ... I think.)

Hennen’s radio show, “The Common Sense Club, is heard on KNOX 1310 AM.

Boyd Coates, of course, doesn’t see much “common sense” in Hennen’s right-wing arguments. For his part, Hennen puts Boyd Coates in the left’s “nanny government” camp. The clash of ideologies makes for precisely the kind of debate and discussion we envision for the monthly Face Off.

It would be easy to conclude that two such opinioned, intelligent and articulate advocates for their beliefs couldn’t be in the same room together. But the opposite is true. Over the past few years, Boyd Coates and Hennen have developed a relationship that is civil and respectful, even as they disagree on the most basic of social, political and cultural matters. That’s the beauty of their working relationship as they mix it up in their Face Off columns and in online face-to-face debates. It’s great fun to watch them work.

Have ideas for timely topics for debate – local state, national, international? Send ’em along. We’ll consider all.

More coming

Meanwhile, we’ve got more changes and additions coming for the daily and Sunday opinion/commentary pages. Former television journalist Michelle Turnberg joined the page two weeks ago. Boyd Coates and Hennen debut today in Forum Face Off.

Look for more next month.

Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at (701) 241-5521 (AFTER SEPT. 15).