Vail Daily letter: Voters deserve to see debate
October 2, 2014
Recently, Eagle County was privileged to host candidates for the General Assembly at a debate organized by the Democratic and Republican parties. The debates between Representative Diane Mitsch Bush (D) and her opponent, Chuck McConnell (R) and state Senate candidates Kerry Donovan (D) and Don Suppes (R) were aired on cable and also taped for subsequent viewing online, providing voters the opportunity to decide for themselves who can best represent Eagle County.
Unfortunately, voters are being denied viewing of this taxpayer-supported, public debate online.
The tape of these debates is not unavailable online because of an unfortunate oversight that excluded the Libertarian and independent candidates — a violation of Eagle County policy.
The Eagle County Democrats then invited these candidates to speak to the voters on camera a week later, which would allow the debates to be shown to voters and for every candidate on the ballot to be represented. The two candidates were also offered another simple remedy: To tape their debate response at their convenience, and their response would be attached to the existing tape of the state House and Senate debates.
The Eagle County GOP did not find either acceptable, saying in an email: "Our conclusion at this point is to insist that the 9/11 debates between the Senate District 5 candidates and House District 26 candidates not be aired. Additionally, we must also insist that they not be available for distribution to any person or group in any form whatever. We need your assurance that they will not mysteriously appear on any social media, Youtube, etc., as a result of county assistance," and, " … the Libertarian candidates will not be included in tonight's debates. Not at the end. Not taped for further review/discussion. Nada. That option is off the table."
Their only remedy was to redo the entire debate. Why? Was there something that was said during these debates by the Republican candidates that may turn voters off? Was it Don Suppes calling additional education funding for our kids "an open bar tab" or was it something else?
The voters deserve to hear the views of our candidates, and a redo would set a dangerous precedent that allows a political party to take a public resource hostage. There was even discussion regarding the destruction of the original footage. Luckily for us all, a nonprofit organization whose purpose it is to assure transparency in government has gained access to the recording of the original broadcast debate.
It is our position that the voters and the people deserve to see the debate in its original form, and our offer to the Libertarian candidates still stands. It's what Eagle County deserves.
Chairwoman, Eagle County Democrats
Editor's note: The video of the debate is posted on the Vail Daily website. Go to bitly.com/eagledebate.
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