Senate District 49 candidate Melisa Franzen (DFL) has turned down at least five invitations for public debates, according to her Republican opponent.
Keith Downey (R-Edina) says Franzen declined five debates against him within the Senate district during this election season.
In an Oct. 17 letter to Franzen, Downey said he believes the residents of the district are interested in getting to know the candidates better. Downey said an actual debate would allow more "give and take and the chance for rebuttal" than candidate forums, arguing debates offer a "real way to educate voters on the merits of our respective positions."
"Please reconsider your opposition to full debates," he wrote. "In our positions, short term campaign tactics should always be subordinate to what is good for the people of our district."
Downey himself offered to host two debates, as did Edina Patch, the Edina Sun-Current and the Edina Rotary Club. Franzen declined all of those invitations.
A debate between the two candidates before the Rotary Club had actually been booked for Oct. 4, but Edina Rotary Public Relations Director Heather Hansen said it was later canceled because Franzen could no longer participate on that given day.
"The message I received was that Melisa Franzen had changed her mind and decided not to participate in the first Edina Rotary debate," Hansen said.
In an email exchange with Patch, Frazen said she understands "why people might be confused" about her decision to not take part in the debates. Franzen said she had already committed to participating in six candidate forums throughout the district, which are "sponsored by groups with a strong tradition of holding substantive, informative discussions."
"Since I became a candidate in February of this year, I have received invitations to a tremendous number of public events, issue forums, meet-and-greet events, candidate forums and more," Franzen wrote. "While I would love to attend them all, it simply isn't possible."
Franzen said she's had countless one-on-one conversations with members of the community at a variety of events and while door-knocking around the district. Through the six public forums Franzen has already participated in—that list is below—she said she's had plenty of chances to discuss a number of important issues. Downey was also present at a number of those forums.
Senate District 49 Forum Dates
- 9/6/12—Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum—Bloomington, MN
- 9/19/12—Normandale Community College & Minnesota State College Student Association Candidate Forum—Bloomington, MN
- 9/19/12—I-35W Transportation Solutions Alliance Candiate Forum—Bloomington, MN
- 10/1/12—Edina League of Women Voters Candidate Forum—Edina, MN
- 10/8/12—Edina Parent Leadership Association Candidate Forum—Edina, MN
- 10/9/12—Bloomington League of Women Voters Candidate Forum—Bloomington, MN