Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oops! NENA President Skips Debate Sponsored by NENA

My opponent has criticized me on his blog for missing the Collister neighborhood forum, which he attended on September 25 and which I was never invited to. Perhaps he retracted his criticism on his blog when he learned that the person responsible for notifying Democratic candidates only contacted District 16 candidates. This is because almost all of the Collister neighborhood is in D16, not D19 where I'm running. D19 candidates have not been invited nor have they appeared at this forum in recent years.

I have, in turn, criticized my opponent on this blog for not attending a forum sponsored by a number of organizations that have a good deal of influence and respect in District 19.

Our ongoing tit-for-tat took an interesting turn this past week, however. Kevin attacked me on his blog last Friday for not confirming my attendance at a forum hosted by the BSU Political Science Dept. Here's what he said: "Despite multiple attempts by the organizer to contact my opponent, he has not responded. If there is a miscommunication, that is fine, he needs to get in touch and confirm his attendance. For those of you that know him, I would encourage you to ask my opponent to come to the debate as a healthy discussion of the issues is a good thing for people."

Well, I certainly don’t want to deny people "a good thing.”

It is true that I did not confirm my attendance. I also did not decline. Given the rather late invitation I received for this as compared to other forums, and given the hectic nature of the last week of the campaign, I was reluctant to make a commitment, particularly given that there was no guarantee that there would be a single District 19 voter in attendance. Besides, we were already scheduled to appear together just three days before the BSU forum at another previously scheduled debate (discussed below). And so I acknowledge that I was leaving my options open.

Fast forward to this past Monday. The event was the North End Neighborhood Association meeting and candidate debates. During their business meeting, NENA was scheduled to elect new board members. Following the election, debates were scheduled for legislative and county commission races. I was invited to this debate back on September 3 and have had it on my calendar ever since. In many ways, the North End is the heart of District 19—a large and vibrant neighborhood that typifies the politics and diversity of the district. Because I knew the debate would attract dozens of D19 voters, and because the North End neighborhood is critical to any candidate running in the district, I wouldn’t have considered missing this event.

My opponent has trumpeted his title as President of the North End Neighborhood Association as his most relevant credential, after having taken on the role just a few weeks before declaring his candidacy for the Legislature. And so it’s strange, if not completely mystifying, that the NENA President wouldn’t show up to his own association meeting, nor would he show up to the debate the association was sponsoring. But that’s exactly what happened.

He has been given opportunities by his fellow board members and the Boise Weekly to explain his absence but to date has not produced any substantive reasons for failing to show: "I had a print job that didn't go very well, and I had some problems with my financial reports." When the Boise Weekly asked me what I thought, I told them, in all honesty, that I was very surprised that he skipped out on this debate. His absence most certainly sent a message to his fellow board members and all the neighborhood residents in attendance, but it’s not a message that generally wins votes. And, it certainly makes his criticism of me just days before ring awfully hollow.

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