Sheppard, Barnhart call on Warren for "true" TV debate
UPDATE: The Democratic candidates for mayor will debate after all.
Thursday, the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce said it would cancel its previously-scheduled candidates' forum should the Democratic candidates for mayor desire to hold a single-party debate on that date.
"Friends of Lovely Warren" released the following statement Thursday:
Friends of Lovely Warren has been trying to get local media and other organizations to partner with the Rochester Chamber of Commerce to televise the Chamber’s debate on September 7. When no one stepped up, the Chamber graciously ceded their time, and Channel 8 along with the League of Women Voters has expressed a willingness to televise a debate during that time slot.
Friends of Lovely Warren has been talking to WROC since Monday about possibly partnering with the chamber and we are grateful now that chamber event has been rescheduled that News 8 and The League of Women Voters will be able to move ahead with their previously canceled debate.
Mayor Warren, who, contrary to widespread reports, never said she wouldn’t participate in a televised debate, is grateful that this matter has been resolved.
Rochester, N.Y. – With just two weeks left until the primary, it appears there won’t be true debate among the three democratic candidates for Rochester’s mayor.
Mayor Lovely Warren is declining to reschedule two televised debates postponed when she fell ill, spending nearly a week in the hospital. Warren has only agreed to one non-televised forum with Republican and Democratic candidates on September 7th with the Chamber of Commerce.
Challengers Rachel Barnhart and James Sheppard are calling on Warren to reconsider.
"It is undemocratic, and it is unprecedented in the history of mayoral politics for a mayor not to participate,” Barnhart said. “It's shameful. and she's a coward and this should not be tolerated."
Barnhart said Warren is not fulfilling her civic duty as a public leader.
Sheppard is calling on Warren to defend her record in a real debate and answer questions about Parcel 5 and a Women and Minority Business Enterprise audit.
"If she can participate in the chamber event, it is disingenuous for her to say she's not well enough to participate in debates with the candidates who'll actually be on the ballet for the Democratic primary," Sheppard said.
Both Barnhart and Sheppard say they're sympathetic to Warren's recent health issues. However, they aren't buying it's the reason for not rescheduling a televised debate.
Sheppard has also refused to debate Barnhart in a separate television opportunity.
“In my mind, I’m not racing third place. I’m racing to be number one,” Sheppard said. “So to be number one, you go against number one and that is the incumbent.”
“Jim Sheppard is no better than Lovely Warren,” Barnhart said. “He’s a coward just like her. Neither one of them wants to debate me and this is terribly unfortunate. Voters deserve to see all of the candidates. The fact is there are a lot of voters deciding between me and Jim Sheppard, and they should be able to see us debate.”
The primary is on September 12th.