Edmond mayoral candidate Brian Shellem has declined to participate in a proposed debate against incumbent Mayor Darrell Davis ahead of the April 4 election, citing a full schedule and prior commitments.
“We are not going to be able to participate right now, and that’s unfortunate,” Shellem said Monday night. “If something switches, then we will reach back out and see if something can get put together, but I’m sorry that we can’t do that.”
Shellem, the president of Advanced Automotive Equipment, has consistently maintained that he wanted to participate in an Edmond mayoral debate as part of NonDoc’s 2023 municipal debate series. He has recently appeared in candidate forums hosted by the Edmond AMBUCS Club, the Edmond Chamber of Commerce and the Edmond Neighborhood Alliance. NonDoc previously hosted an Edmond mayoral debate in 2021 between Davis and homebuilder Nathan Walters.
Asked about a debate in February, Shellem’s campaign manager Jen Lambrecht told NonDoc she would reach out with dates that worked with Shellem’s schedule. Despite multiple conversations about the proposed debate, she never provided scheduling options.
Sunday night, Lambrecht texted a statement, saying that Shellem wanted to debate but simply would not be able to.
“Brian has been looking forward to the opportunity to debate Mr. Davis. Unfortunately our schedules haven’t been able to come together. With just three short weeks remaining before the election, Mr. Shellem’s window of opportunity to schedule a debate has become very limited due to previously scheduled commitments,” Lambrecht said. “I’m hopeful that if there is a change in our schedule, we can have a debate so we can each illustrate our vision for Edmond’s future and how to best move forward.”
On Monday morning, Shellem said he would speak with his campaign manager about the potential of doing a one-hour debate on a morning, afternoon or weekend. But Monday night, he ultimately declined.
“I did discuss with Jen. I also discussed with my wife, who runs some of my schedule for my campaign and my personal stuff, because it’s very difficult,” Shellem said. “I liked the idea of the debate, but it’s all about time and investment and [what] we’re getting in return.”
Davis committed to participating in the proposed debate and provided dates to NonDoc for scheduling purposes. Told that Shellem’s campaign had declined to schedule a mayoral debate, Davis did not respond with comment prior to the publication of this article.