Before Thursday's debate, the candidates sat under the television lights at the WPBS studios on Arsenal Street and bantered politely. Afterward, they shook hands and smiled.
The half hour in between was much more interesting, and much less civil.
"You're getting testy there," Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham told his opponent, Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith, during a debate that will air Friday night at 9 p.m. "Attack, attack attack."
The debate, about a month before the Nov. 8 election to decide who will win the ceremonial title of mayor on City Council, shed light on the content and tone of each candidates' arguments. For Mr. Graham, it includes pillorying his opponent on his alternative-energy stance, and reminding voters that Mr. Smith, too, has a long history in city government. For Mr. Smith, it's about highlighting what he considers new vision, leadership and energy, and criticizing some of the mayor's hobbies outside his governmental role.
And for both candidates, the tone is decidedly negative.