Voters lose out on mayoral debate

THE MIAMI HERALD
SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

The Miami-Dade mayoral debate to be held on Sept. 28 between the two runoff candidates, Mayor Carlos Gimenez and former School Board member Raquel Regalado is officially canceled.

According to a brief email received on Sept. 21, “Mayor Gimenez will not be participating in the event.” No reason was given.

The voters of Miami-Dade have lost an opportunity to learn about the candidates who want to represent them as mayor, and particularly about their positions on the issues that matter to constituents.

League of Women Voters’ guidance on debates shows that, “The public does not look favorably on candidates who try to duck debates.”

Candidates running for public office are applying for a job. Debates are like job interviews, and the voters are hiring.

Voters expect, and rightly so, that their candidates participate in voter education activities, like debates, to share where they stand on the issues. Our intention, in organizing this debate, was to prepare voters to make an informed decision when filling out their ballots.

Any candidate who wants to lead our community, to represent 2.5 million citizens, set the spending priorities of a $7 billion budget and provide leadership to more than 26,000 employees, should welcome every opportunity to appear in a public setting to share his or her platform and vision for Miami-Dade.

We hear in the media that the candidate intends to debate in the future. We heartily encourage this, and look forward to the details. The canceled debate was to be moderated by a panel of respected journalists from English and Spanish-language media outlets before a live audience at the Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College, live-streamed across the community, recorded and available for future viewing.

This is a lost opportunity for the candidates and, most important, for Miami-Dade voters.

SUSAN WINDMILLER,

BOARD PRESIDENT, LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY