Public Debate for Alabama Governor Race
Public Debate for Alabama Governor Race
The maintenance and success of a healthy and functioning democracy relies on active citizen participation, and it is our responsibility, as citizens, to regularly engage in the democratic process and to hold our elected officials, and candidates for office, accountable.
Across the country, individuals and communities are preparing for the 2018 midterm elections with voter registration drives, candidate forums and public debates, and active political campaigns. These pre-election efforts engage citizens in the political process and help provide us with the education and information we need to cast our ballots and make informed decisions on election day.
Election debates are a fundamental component of US politics that provide citizens with an opportunity to hear directly from all candidates about their positions on key social, economic, and political issues. Debates encourage candidates to move beyond political banter and partisan attacks and to focus on public policy and how they will address these key issues if elected. It is an opportunity for candidates to publicly stand behind their values, platforms, and vision for the future and to demonstrate why they are most qualified to represent citizens in this elected position. At the same time, they allow members of the public to directly compare, and critically evaluate, the platforms and visions of the candidates. Additionally, debates provide insight into how well each candidate communicates their message, operates under pressure, and interacts with their political opponent and how often they avoid discussion of certain topics. Refusal to engage in debate is harmful to the American people and to the health and well-being of our democracy, and it is unreasonable, and should be unacceptable, for citizens of a democracy to have to vote on representatives without an opportunity to hear from them in a public debate.
In November, Alabamians will elect our next governor. As the highest elected officer in the state, the governor is responsible for making decisions that influence the daily lives of Alabamians, the success of our communities, and the overall health and well-being of the State. The governor will appoint representatives to regulatory and licensing boards and commissions; will have veto power; and will oversee the development and execution of our budget, among other responsibilities, yielding this individual the power to shape the state’s political, social, and economic landscape.
In addition to running the State, the governor of Alabama serves as the President of the Board of Trustees of Auburn University, Auburn University – Montgomery, and the University of Alabama, resulting in direct power and influence over the state’s largest educational institutions and the students, faculty, and staff who attend and are employed by them. Our institutions of higher education are one of the state’s largest sources of employment and have a profound economic impact on the state, and it is important for citizens to understand how they will address issues pertinent to these institutions.
There are clear and profound implications of this election, but no plans for a debate between our candidates for governor, and amid growing public pressure for a debate, Governor Ivey has consistently refused, citing a lack of time and lack of public interest as reasons for her refusal. She was recently quoted in a news article saying, "The only two people who ever bring that up is y'all in the media and my opponent."
This statement is false, and as citizens whose job it is to hold our elected leaders and candidates for elected positions accountable, we want to correct this inaccurate information. Governor Ivey, Alabamians do want you to engage in a public debate with Walt Maddox before the midterm election on November 6, and as citizens of a democratic society, we deserve it.
Governor Ivey, your participation will educate us on your positions, priorities, and vision for the State of Alabama and provide us with the knowledge to make an informed and wise decision when voting for governor on November 6. It will demonstrate that you stand behind your beliefs, with a spirit that is not afraid, and that you are willing to put the citizens of Alabama and our democratic ideals above the personal concerns that make you not want to debate. Your unwillingness to engage in a public debate with your political opponent will also send a strong message, and the choice is yours to determine which message you will send.
Elections are about more than Republicans and Democrats, “us versus them,” and attacks on political opponents. They are an opportunity for citizens to elect individuals that can best represent our needs, advocate on our behalf, and strengthen our state. The governor will have the power and authority to improve the current social and economic conditions that limit our potential and that we often view as unchangeable, and we must ensure that you understand the issues we face and have the knowledge, skills, and will power to address them. Our children do not have to live in poverty and should not attend schools that lack air conditioning, books for students, or the opportunities afforded to students in well-funded schools in economically advantaged areas; adults should not have to work multiple jobs to meet the basic needs of their families; and families should not have to choose between purchasing medication or paying rent and buying groceries. These issues impact individuals across party lines, and the governor will have the ability to address them, among many others.
It is appalling that a democratically elected candidate for the highest office in the state would opt out of a public debate with their opponent and even more absurd that this would be acceptable to the citizens of a democratic society. If we simply accept your refusal to debate, we concede that we are ok with the current conditions of our state and the status of our democracy, and Alabamians want something better.
We hope you understand our concern, our love for our state, and our commitment to democracy, and more importantly, we hope that you will grant our request for a public debate. Cheers!