Aug 302013



By Abbie Bennett

Thursday, August 29, 2013

At-large City Councilman Dennis Mitchell challenged opponent Calvin Mercer on Thursday to a series of one-on-one election debates.

Mitchell announced in a news release that the debates would be key to informing voters about the race with Mercer, the District 4 representative on Greenville’s City Council now challenging Mitchell for the at-large seat.

Mitchell said the race with Mercer is “one of the most defining” of the campaign season.

Mercer said the release “was sadly indicative of Mr. Mitchell’s tenure on the City Council.”

“Instead of seeking an open and honest debate about the issues by approaching me, Mitchell has instead sought out media attention by attempting to cast himself as the catalyst for these forums,” Mercer said. “This is no way to conduct yourself as a candidate and it is certainly no way to conduct yourself as a council member.”

No dates or locations have been set for any debates. Both campaigns will have to meet to iron out specific terms of the debates first.

“My opponent has stated that he does not want this election to be about sound bites, and neither do I,” Mitchell said. “So there is no better way to hear the issues and counterclaims than by facing off in a debate.”

“My opponent and I both have records,” Mitchell said. “I am more than willing to put my record of service and leadership throughout my first term against his record of seat warming over the last six years.”

Mitchell said it is not uncommon for candidates to participate in forums that allow hopefuls from multiple districts to answer questions on stage. He wants the one-on-one format to allow more time and a better chance for rebuttal.

“That’s going to be key during this campaign,” Mitchell said. “Calvin has a lot of charges in his campaign announcements and this will be his chance to give clarification.”

Mitchell said Mercer “has already shown he has the intention of making this race about everything but the issues and the voters deserve better, so I am calling him out.”

Mitchell alleges that Mercer has “taken credit” for accomplishments that do not belong to him.

Mercer said that if Mitchell wants to be seen as “someone who wants an honest and open debate” he should approach the debates “open and honestly.”

“If you’re going to claim I am taking credit for things I had nothing to do with, name them,” Mercer said.

“I think it’s important to know the difference between bringing forth initiatives or sitting back and listening to the good and voting yes, or listening to something bad and voting no,” Mitchell said.

purplearrowMitchell said he thinks a debate series would be a good project for East Carolina University’s Political Science department, Student Government Association or a local television program.

He also said he would like groups that typically host candidate forums to consider the debate format instead.

“When you have 15 people up there in a two-hour format, you have time for introductions and maybe to answer one or two questions and then it’s over,” Mitchell said. “That’s not enough.”

Mercer said he looks forward to the debates and plans to work with community organizations along with Mitchell to make sure that the debates highlight issues important to Greenville.

“And though it wasn’t handled appropriately, I’m excited that after two years, Mr. Mitchell is finally willing to try to build something with someone he disagrees with,” Mercer said.

Contact Abbie Bennett at or 252-329-9579. Follow her on Twitter @AbbieRBennett.

via The Daily Reflector.


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