To the editors:
I am the chairman of the Pontotoc County Democratic Party in Ada, Oklahoma. As you know, Ada is the queen city of Senate District 13, and we have a pretty heated race down here for that seat. Ada High School teacher and band director Eric Hall is the democratic candidate seeking to keep Sen. Susan Paddack’s seat blue. Former city councilman Greg McCortney is the Republican vying to turn it red.
I recently read your article on bad democracy, and I completely agree that the failure of so many of these candidates to respond to a simple request for information, as in your case, or to even show up for a debate or forum, as in mine, is contemptuous.
As chairman of the local party, I was part of a bipartisan effort to plan and organize a meet-the-candidate forum and then a subsequent debate on issues facing our district. The bipartisan group was composed of the county Democrat and Republican parties and the East Central University Politics Club, an amalgamation of Young Democrats and College Republicans.
We first proposed four dates: Oct. 14, 17, 24 or 27. The first of either being for the forum and the last to be for the debate. Originally, the Politics Club wanted to focus solely on education. The GOP candidates (both facing educators as opponents) expressed that students weren’t their target audience this late in the game and that there were more issues than education.
The bipartisan committee took their comments and changed the scope of the forum to include: jobs, infrastructure, economy, education and natural resources; made a decision on a date and venue. They next sent formal invitations to each of the eight candidates for state and county races.
Not one single Republican candidate showed up. Carl Lewis, a journalist for the Ada News, attended the event, took pictures and wrote a pretty tame (given the circumstances) article highlighting their absence.
I just wanted you to know that bad democracy hasn’t ended at not returning a questionnaire in this race — these candidates will not even face their opponents in an open forum.
I just thought this type of conduct unacceptable, especially when given the opportunity to pick the date and be given an opportunity to publicly challenge their opponent in front of a large crowd of constituents.
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