Republican state Rep. George Ross said Monday that commitments for his job as a full-time legislator prevent him from having the time to participate in four debates against Democratic challenger Paul Heroux. On the night of last Thursday, Heroux challenged the freshman legislator to a general debate and three topic-based duels on crime policy, economic policy and values.
Ross responded that one debate prior to the Nov. 6 election was enough.
"While I appreciated my opponent's idea of a multitude of debates, the fact of the matter is that I am a full-time legislator," Ross said. "Two years ago, to serve day in and day out, and that's what I've done and what I will continue to do."
The legislative session finished at the end of July, but Ross said he still frequently travels to Boston for meetings and to work on various matters for his job.
"While my opponent has to the time to launch baseless attacks against me, I am going to use my time to focus on jobs, the economy and the residents of Attleboro," Ross said. "I do plan to engage my opponent in one debate, at which time I will talk about my successes as a freshman legislator and my plans going forward."
Ross accused Heroux of being a hypocrite because he issued a press release Monday that was critical of the incumbent for not agreeing to participate in four debates, while the challenger had no debate with his Democratic primary opponent Stephen Kane.
Heroux wrote in the release that he wanted to debate Kane, but it did not happen because of logistical reasons. Also in the release, Heroux wrote that by not agreeing to participate in four debates, Ross was denying the voters access to valuable information.
"Ross campaigned [in 2010] on bringing jobs to Attleboro," Heroux wrote. "The voters ought to know how successful he was, what he has done, and how the candidates differ on approaches they would take on Beacon Hill to revive our local economy."
Heroux questioned Ross' competency as a legislator and wrote that the incumbent's website features "a paltry amount of information on where he stands on the issues."
"Rep. Ross seems to be showing that he is hoping to get reelected on the notion that he is a nice guy and everyone's jolly friend," Heroux said. "Unfortunately, this is not a popularity contest. Being a state rep isn't about the rep, it is about the people, their needs and the issues. Important issues need to be addressed and there is real and important work to be done."