David Heim, Democratic candidate for first selectman, plans to hold a press conference this afternoon in which he plans to call out George Temple for refusing to debate him in a public location.
"The Oxford Grange had generously offered to host the event and provide an impartial moderator," Heim said. "All we needed was George Temple. But he said no. Then his campaign manager said yes. But then George Temple said no again."
Heim said Temple will only debate him at Oxford Greens, a 55-and-older community in Oxford that has previously not allowed the press to attend its debates, saying that it is a private organization and doesn't need to allow the media. That debate is scheduled for Oct. 30.
While the Grange offered the location, Oxford Patch has offered to moderate a debate between the two candidates. Temple originally said he was interested in that format but later recanted. (See Temple's full response below.)
Heim Wants Community at Large to Hear Debate
Heim says, "Temple has decided that nearly all of Oxford’s 12,000 residents have no right to hear him discuss issues in this campaign or his record as first selectman. Yet he has the nerve to campaign on the slogan of 'Oxford Together.'"
"This is nothing new," Heim said. "George Temple pulled the same shenanigans when he ran in 2011. What is he afraid of? Why won’t he face the voters? Temple’s refusal to debate openly is an insult to everyone who lives in Oxford and cares about the future of our town."
Finally, Heim said that Temple included his home telephone number in one of his campaign brochures.
"Here it is again: 203-888-4337," Heim said. "I urge all Oxford residents who would like to see him debate me in public to give him a call. Tell him to allow everyone in town to hear his vision—and mine—for Oxford’s future."
"My opponent has requested that I debate him in the Oxford Grange, and I have refused. I have given him my reasons. First of all, he should be careful what he wishes for. He hasn't lived in Oxford long enough to really appreciate the mood of the town or to understand that people have a vision for our town. My vision is out there. What you see is what you get. I believe that this is a time to take bold steps and improve our town. I am a doer and a listener but once I feel that an action is required, there is no debate: I do what is in the best interest of the town. I have a town to run, and I would rather spend my free time talking to the people and listening to their concerns and ideas.
"The Democratic candidate (Heim) has yet to share his vision. He says that I am doing a poor job and yet he doesn't say how he would do better. He says he is a better manager, and yet we don't know what he has managed. He has no governmental experience. We don't know very much about him at all. What we do know is that he voted against the playscape and says he was for it. He hasn't said anything that leads me to believe that a debate would be productive.
"When I last ran for first selectman, we did debate at Oxford Greens. As this has become a tradition, I will honor this commitment. In fact, at the last Oxford Greens debate, the Democratic (town committee) chair was the 'neutral' moderator. I would only hope that the Democratic candidate adds a little substance to his campaign so I don't have to debate the air."