One of the traditions in the American political arena has been "The Debate," where opposing candidates for public office have an opportunity to discuss important current issues. The debate is a significant event as a public forum because it informs the electorate as to where the candidates stand on those issues. However, the debate format traditionally requires at least two participants. It is an exercise in futility to try to conduct a debate with only one candidate at the table.
Here in the 4th Congressional District, there are two candidates running to fill this seat: Hank Johnson (the incumbent), and Liz Carter, an independent, successful businesswoman. In 2006 Hank was running against the then-incumbent Cynthia McKinney, and he made the following statement: "She is not a factor in local debate because she has until now refused to publicly engage in a discussion of the issues with me. Have you had enough?" (WindsofChange.net, July 25, 2006)
Since the beginning of August, there have been three public forum events to which invitations were extended to candidates up for public office and that provided opportunities for these candidates to outline their positions on the issues: Aug. 3 -- Rockdale 20 Coalition Forum; Aug. 21 -- Rockdale Cares Legislative Candidate Forum; Sep. 8 -- NAACP/Citizens Progressive Candidate Forum. Liz Carter attended each event and not only discussed her positions on issues, but answered questions from the audiences. There can be no doubt about her stand on national as well as state and local issues.
So where was Hank Johnson? Why won't he make an appearance at an event that he knows Liz Carter will be attending? Does not Hank have a responsibility to make himself available to the public during this election cycle, or has he lost sight of the fact that he is in Washington because his constituents are the ones who placed him there? Does he feel so safe and protected in his district that he sees no reason why he should make any public appearances to defend his positions?
In his 2006 criticisms of Cynthia McKinney, Johnson said her history of controversy is well known, and that she had brought a great deal of negative national attention to her district. How much negative attention did Johnson bring to the 4th District with his comments (paraphrasing here) about "... folk returning to running around again with white-hooded sheets," following Rep. Joe Wilson's "you lie!" outburst to Obama, and his "I'm just afraid that the island of Guam will tip over and capsize if too many U.S. Marines are newly stationed there" comment he made to a senior Navy admiral when discussing troop deployment?
There are a number of issues that Liz Carter and Hank Johnson have opposing views on: Health care, the FairTax, the Second Amendment, support of our troops, education, jobs and the economy, the size of government and its spending policies, to name but a few. The voters of Rockdale County and the 4th District deserve to hear the views of the two candidates first hand. Liz Carter will be there to participate in any debate on these issues. Will anybody be able to find Hank Johnson, and who will hold him accountable? Have you had enough?
-- Vince Przybyszewski
CDR, USN/USPHS (Ret.)