When and Where to Debate, a Point of Contention Between Candidates for Mayor
Mayor Kevin Dumas is asking his opponent for Mayor, Ronald Churchill to commit to "several substantive debates."
To The Editor:
In the Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011 Sun Chronicle, Candidate for Mayor, Ron Churchill, again writes another rambling simple Letter to the Editor, wanting to express his opinion on issues facing the City. This letter is another perfect example why the Citizens of Attleboro deserve several substantive debates prior to casting their votes on November 8.
As a mayoral candidate, it is inexcusable for Mr. Churchill to lob sound bites on complex issues by way of a letter to the editor, and then take cover and refuse to participate in public debates on those very issues.
In July, I personally challenged Mr. Ron Churchill to the first in a series of at least three debates aimed at educating the public on the issues that impact our City’s future and the lives of all its residents.
This challenge was in support of the Sun Chronicle Editorial Staff’s recommendation for a series of substantive debates to take place in the City. I noted in my challenge, that I would be happy to work with any of the local past sponsors of debates in the City including the City political parties, Double ACS Cable, Bristol Community College, the Sun Chronicle, and the local Chamber of Commerce.
Nine weeks later, I still had not heard from any organization. With that in mind, last week, I contacted Bristol Community College and they agreed to both moderate and host a Mayoral debate as long as both candidates agreed to show up. I then contacted Ron Churchill to inform him that the College was willing to work with our Committees to produce a Mayor debate at one of three different October dates (October 6, 12 or 13). During that phone conversation, Mr. Churchill agreed to the October 13date.
This is the format I had suggested: Each candidate would give a three minute opening statement, followed by each candidate asking five questions of the other candidate, with a one minute rebuttal. Each candidate could then give a three minute closing statement. Candidates would not be given the questions in advance.
Since then, Mr. Churchill and his Committee changed their mind and now refuse to participate in the Bristol Community College debate. Many phone calls were made to Mr. Churchill and his Committee seeking reasons why they backed out of the three dates. There were conflicting reasons given by Mr. Churchill and his committee for not participating in this debate.
The facts seem to point that no date or terms seem to be agreeable to Mr. Churchill, and I now believe that his goal is that he is not interested at all in participating in any substantive debate. This will be a great disservice to the Voters of Attleboro, as they need to be able to make an informed decision about Attleboro's future, in this year's election.
While I remain hopeful that Mr. Churchill will honor his latest commitment to participate in the November 3rd forum at the Agudas Achim, there is no legitimate reason why he cannot commit to two additional mayoral debates during the month of October.
If a candidate for Mayor is not willing to talk to the voters now, regarding the issues of the day, how will they be able to communicate with the voters, staff, and employees of the City once in office? Leading the City of Attleboro is a serious job. Being the Mayor of Attleboro is about knowing the issues and being prepared to explain your platform, policies, and experience to the voters when asked. It's about being able to express yourself when asked random questions and not just reading from a cue card. I continue to anticipate that at least three substantive debates will take place, including debates where there is time for the general public to ask questions. The citizens of Attleboro deserve no less.
Mayor Kevin J. Dumas
Editor's Note: A debate will be held at Attleboro City Hall, according to one of the two debate sponors, The United Regional Chamber of Commerce and The Sun Chronicle. Questions for the debate will be solicited from the public, according to organizers. Chris Bond, who is a business broker and does not live or work in Attleboro, will be the moderator. A date for the mayoral debate will be determined by Monday.