Candidate Debate Cancelled

We tried. And when the first try didn’t work, we tried again. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter. It was pretty clear that some candidates would not participate in a debate, no matter what we did. So we will not have the candidate debate we tried so hard to put together.

That’s a big disappointment for us and a big loss for the voters, but we don’t want to have another “empty chair” debate like the one another group had two years ago. (Two of the candidates who didn’t show up for that debate indicated they wouldn’t show up for this debate either.) Our apologies to all the citizens who were looking forward to hearing each candidate’s ideas, visions and experience.

I don’t know the real reasons that five candidates declined to participate. None of the reasons they provided seem legitimate. It just seems like they were looking for any excuse so they wouldn’t have to answer questions from voters.

We do want to say thank you to Tom Witts, Dave Emanuel, Cristy Lenski and Roger Marmol who said they would show up anywhere and anytime for a debate.

I’m sure you’ll hear all kinds of claims about our debate being unfair and biased. The facts are, we worked very, very hard to be as fair as possible. The Snellville Times stated very clearly that we were only hosting the debate. No member of the staff and no one who submitted articles would be involved in the debate. Here’s what we sent to each candidate;

Format for the debate will be;

1-   It will take place in front of a live audience

2-   All questions will be submitted by members of the audience

3-   Each candidate may designate a representative to review questions before they are given to the moderator

4-   Any question deemed inappropriate by a representative will not be given to the moderator.

5-   Should it become obvious that a representative is arbitrarily rejecting questions, or trying to disrupt the process, the moderator will ask for a replacement representative. If none is specified or available, the candidate may proceed without a representative or withdraw from the debate. All rejected questions will then be resubmitted for review by the remaining representatives.

6-   The moderator will ask a question and give each candidate 3 minutes to answer. The candidate asked to respond first will change with each question in such a manner that the first candidate asked to respond will change with each question.

 We had also contacted a well-known television reporter to serve as the moderator. Still, all we got were accusations, insults and double talk.

It’s important for voters to be able to hear what candidates have to say, so for a while, we thought we would go ahead and schedule a debate. We even had the auditorium at South Gwinnett High School reserved. But then someone from the Norcross area made a complaint and put the school in an awkward position. The last thing we wanted was to cause any problems for South Gwinnett High School and at this late date, finding another venue was almost impossible. Besides, it didn’t make sense to spend more time and effort for an empty chair debate

Is it coincidence that the complaint came from the Norcross area? Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll have more information about what appears to be an intentional effort by outsiders working with and/or for some candidates to derail the debate, and possibly the election. Stay tuned.



  1. My, my, my! I am surprised – but not really when I stopped to think about it. The ones unwilling to be involved may have thought their reasons to decline were appropriate – BUT when any politician (or hope-to-be politician. . . i.e. elected official) declines a public forum, I wonder about their ability or willingness to lead.
    And the real losers? The citizens of Snellville! Oh, and by the way – ‘Norcross’ keep your nose in your own business – I just know your city has enough challenges of its own – please for the integrity and well-being of all concerned, play in your own back yard!
    And, finally, but not because of lack of importance, thank you to the party (parties) who worked so diligently and faithfully to sponsor this debate/forum/whatever. If our candidates refuse to face the electorate, do they have enough guts, fortitude, integrity, confidence to lead our city. . . Lets all ask ourselves that question!

  2. A few thoughts about the cancelled debate-
    I was sorely disappointed to find out that the candidate debate had been cancelled. I think it’s important for voters to have the opportunity to ask questions and have candidates respond directly. It’s even better when candidates running for the same position are present at the same time so voters can hear their responses within minutes of each others.So when asked to participate in a debate, I replied, anywhere, any time.

    And the truth be known, the proposed format was more of a forum than a debate. According to the information every candidate received, a moderator would ask a question and each candidate would be given three minutes to answer. There was to be no direct debate.

    In fact, the proposed debate was simply an opportunity for each candidate to present his or her ideas, visions and accomplishments. I can’t think of any reason a candidate would refuse to participate unless they had none of the above.

    In light of the debate/forum being cancelled, I invite anyone with a question or concern to contact me directly. I ran for office to serve the people in our city and I don’t believe you can do that effectively if you’re not accessible. Call me at 770/262-2115, or email me at

  3. “If you don’t play in traffic, you won’t get hit by traffic” is a paraphrase of what I was told by a good friend who was the sole commissioner of a county in the North Georgia mountains. He was telling me why the late 9th District incumbent Rep. Ed Jenkins wasn’t going to come to Snellville for a forum, nor a debate, nor a victory party when he won. Doug Barnard, 10th District incumbent, from Augusta had not yet publicly announced if he’d run or not UNTIL he accepted our invitation. VFW Post 4180 hosted this event after our abbreviated business meeting and opened the doors to the public.
    Both incumbents won their elections and the rest is history. After seeing this morning’s headlines here in SnellvilleTimes it appears some don’t want to play in traffic while some couldn’t find traffic standing under the traffic light at 78/124. Jessayin’.

  4. Well I now know without a doubt who I will be voting for. I said it beforw, if a candidate is not man or woman enough to face a debate I don’t want them running my city. Congratulations to tom, dave, roger, and cindy, your votes from me are cemented in stone and I will be fighting for you from now till election day. The others just blew it totally and drew their true selves out of this race. They don’t care about our city one bit. Too bad.

  5. I was looking forward to attending the debate.

    How are we to assess the candidates if they do not show up to speak what they believe?

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