Despite what League of Women Voters DeKalb President Belinda Pedroso described as “multiple efforts” to schedule a 4th district congressional forum around Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson’s schedule, the congressman was not present for the Oct. 20 event. His challenger, Republican Liz Carter, was the lone candidate at the forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters DeKalb, Junior League of DeKalb and The Champion Newspaper.
The forum, which had been advertised for three weeks in print and online, was held at the DeKalb History Center in downtown Decatur. Around 1 p.m. on the day of the event, an e-mail from Congressman Johnson’s office was sent to Pedroso that stated, “Due to a scheduling conflict, the Congressman regrets that he will be unable to attend the forum. His bio and highlights from his record are attached.”
Pedroso said that The League of Women Voters began planning the Congressional debate shortly after the July primary and that the date was confirmed on Sept. 28. Reminder notices were sent from the League of Women Voters DeKalb to both candidates on Oct. 18.
The league president said she was disappointed. “I notified the congressman’s office that the debate would take place as planned,” Pedroso said. “When a candidate does not participate in a debate, the community is deprived of knowledge about that candidacy.”
Following moderator Bill Crane’s introduction, Carter began addressing the crowd by stating, “We are at a critical point in this nation. We need to elect people who will fight for what is right and not what is easy.”
With no time restraints, Carter continued to address the audience regarding education, transportation and her desire to end what she referred to as “corruption in politics.”
“I have walked and talked among the voters. It doesn’t matter if you are Republican, Democrat on independent, I will represent you.” Carter said. “District 4 has not had a strong representative in a long time and I live here. We need to move forward and get beyond political parties. I am tired of being embarrassed.”