Is Ron Barber ducking debates with Jesse Kelly?
The Arizona Daily Independent(ADI) reported this weekend that Ron Barber refused to participate in a Congressional District 8 (CD8) candidate debate sponsored by Vail Academy and High School (VAHS). According to the ADI article, both Kelly and Charles Manolakis, the Green Party candidate, accepted Vail Academy’s offer to debate.
So, what’s up with the Vail debate now? A visit to the Facebook page for VAHS’ “Congressional Special Election Debate shows the following statement at the top of the page: “Unfortunately, VAHS was unable to secure all three candidates therefore we are canceling the debate scheduled for May 14th.”
What a shame.
I looked for information on the other debates that are scheduled—and it seems that there’s only ONE CD8 special election debate scheduled, on May 23rd.
Only ONE debate? Why not more? The CD8 congressional seat merits only ONE debate between the candidates?
Did someone decide that CD8 voters already know everything they need to know about the candidates, and where they stand on the issues? (If so, I’d sure like to meet that “someone.”)
I asked the Kelly campaign why there weren’t more debates. John Ellinwood from the Kelly campaign sent me this reply: “Jesse was looking forward to a series of public debates around the district but Ron Barber seems reluctant to discuss the issues important to Southern Arizona.” (Emphasis added). Specifically, Kelly was willing to do “4 or 5 or more [debates] if needed.”
I was looking forward to a series of debates between the candidates in CD8. Weren’t we all? In fact, isn’t it surprising that we appear to be heading for a Congressional election with JUST ONE debate?
Southeastern Tucson needs an aggressive, capable voice in Congress. The tried-and-true way of determining who the best candidate is—head-to-head debates. The more debates, the better. At the very least, we shouldn’t settle for JUST ONE.
Debates were good enough for Lincoln and Douglas; they should be good enough for us.
Here’s hoping that ALL of the candidates agree to several debates, in between now and the election. Voters deserve to see and hear, for themselves, who’s the best person for this critical job.
UPDATE: This is an excerpt from Wednesday’s Arizona Daily Star article on CD8 debates
[Referring to the May 23rd debate] This is the only currently scheduled debate in which voters will be able to watch live as Barber and Kelly discuss the issues facing the district in a head-to-head format prior to the June 12 Congressional District 8 special election. It will be held in the JCC Ballroom, which seats in excess of 500 people. Seating will be first come, first served.
KUAT Channel 6 will air a candidate forum featuring Barber and Kelly on May 16 at 6 p.m. that will be taped earlier in the day. The taping of the forum is not open to the public.
Students at Vail Academy and High School tried to organize a third debate, but Barber declined the invitation.
Two debates makes the most sense, said Jennifer Cox, Barber’s campaign manager, who didn’t elaborate further as to why they declined.
(All emphasis was added).