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Candidates want to have say in debates

Jones, Terbolizard excluded from some public events
By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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Suzanne Jones said Tuesday that she would enjoy the opportunity to debate the two leading candi-dates in the race for the Fourth District Congressional seat. But the Citrus Heights attorney won’t have the chance to square off against former Congressman Doug Ose, R-Sacramento, and state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, at next Thursday’s public debate set to be held at Sierra College. Debate organizers said Tuesday that they don’t want to take time away from the “viable candi-dates.” “We (Republican candidate Theodore Terbolizard and I) have been excluded,” Jones said by phone on her way to a campaign event in Tahoe Tuesday. “It’s a public forum — how can they exclude candidates? I think the voters should hear from those of us who don’t have the ability to put out thou-sands of dollars for TV ads and advertising.” Jones said she and Terbolizard were also excluded from a May 8 debate at William Jessup Univer-sity in Rocklin and have just learned they will not participate in a May 29 debate in Downtown Sac-ramento being presented by the Sacramento and El Dorado County Lincoln clubs. “A debate is the only way to hear from all of us,” Jones said. “The voters should be given the op-portunity to hear from all four of us during at least one debate. They want to hear a full and vigorous debate of the issues — they will from two of the candidates but not the full four.” The May 28 debate is being sponsored by the Citizen Voice in partnership with KFBK 1530 New-sTalk radio and the Roseville Chamber of Commerce. Sierra College is simply renting out the facility space, said Diane Wright, spokeswoman for the college. Phone calls to both Gary Dietrich, chief executive officer and founder of Citizen Voice and Liz Murray, special projects coordinator, were not returned as of press time Tuesday. Wendy Gerig, chief executive officer of the Roseville Chamber of Commerce, said that after a dis-cussion with Dietrich, organizers decided to conduct the debate between the two “leading candidates.” “We thought it would be in everyone’s best interest to have only the viable candidates participate,” Gerig said. “While it may seem unfair, it is the way it is and it is unfortunate that we don’t have hours to (allow the candidates) to debate. We only have a short timeframe and we want to provide the at-tendees with as much information about the two candidates that we can.” Terbolizard said he plans on filing a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission against Citizen Voice and KFBK in respect to election code number 110.13 2 c, which states that “staging organization(s) must use pre-established objective criteria to determine which candidates may participate in a debate.” “Are you operating as an FEC–defined staging organization and, if so, what is the exact pre-established objective criteria your organization is using to select candidates for the (May 28) debate which is to be broadcast on a FCC-licensed AM radio station reaching more than 50,000 homes within 30 days prior to a federal primary election,” Terbolizard wrote in a e-mail to Dietrich. “You have to pick your battles wisely and this is the battle to pick,” Terbolizard said. “This is the last straw. If we are not viable candidates, then the people should be able to see for themselves.” Terbolizard said having all four candidates participate is better for the dialogue of the party. “We (Jones and I) both want to appear on stage,” Terbolizard said. “But we are being blocked.” Spokesman Doug Elmets said Tuesday that Ose would encourage a debate with all four candidates, but those chosen to participate are up to the organizers. “We defer to the organizers of the debate, but clearly anyone running for office or who has a base of support deserves to be heard,” Elmets said. “Based on endorsements and elective history, it appears the debate organizers have decided to focus on the frontrunners. But everyone who is running de-serves to be heard, whether it is at this debate or on the editorial pages of newspapers.” Jones and Terbolizard said they still plan on having a booth at next Wednesday’s debate, though they might not be on stage facing off against Ose and McClintock. “I can’t be absent,” Jones said. “I have to make myself available for questions and meet-and-greet as much as I can. Just because I am not participating in the debate doesn’t mean I can let my constitu-ents down.” The Journal’s Jenna Nielsen can be reached at jennan@goldcountrymedia.com or comment on this story at auburnjournal.com. ---------- Infobox: Congressional District 4 debate What: Debate between Republican candidates Doug Ose and Tom McClintock When: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. May 28 Where: Dietrich Theater at Sierra College, Rocklin Tickets to the debate are free and are available at citizenvoice.org. Seating is limited. The debate will also be broadcast live on KFBK NewsTalk 1530.