Many of us growing up were taught how our political system was supposed to work. Those who sought office would honestly make themselves available for public vetting and query, and then the voters could make educated choices. Public forums and debates are the cornerstone of this part of civic life. However, when that avenue of public education is overtaken by political handlers and gamesmanship, we are the ones being played.
On Thursday, September 3, there was a public debate scheduled between the three candidates for Douglas County Commissioner – Republican George Teal, Democrat Lisa Neal-Graves, and Libertarian Victoria Reynolds. All three candidates made the commitment to participate. Monies were expended in reliance upon those promises. Voters were told about the event and many looked forward to the opportunity to hear about local issues instead of the dumpster fire that often dominates the national election news cycle. Then, suddenly, it was off. First George Teal went back on his word and pulled out. Why? The debate sponsor was told that the Republican Party apparatus did not want to give the Democrat any public attention. Then the Democrat pulled out. Why? Because apparently only the Republicans and Democrats matter and the Latina woman who is running on the Libertarian ticket just isn’t worth their time. So much for minority representation and giving space for those voices.
Victoria Reynolds was the last one standing and remains willing and able to have this debate. This isn’t about Party insiders. It is about us, the voters, and we should not be pawns on a political chessboard to be denied needed education about the people who think they deserve to put in authority over decisions that will affect all of our lives. One promise broken is the promise of more to come.