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Security fears halt congressional debate

Candidates will discuss issues on radio Wednesday night instead
By: Jenna Nielsen Journal Staff Writer
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Because of “security concerns,” a District 4 congressional debate between two Republican hopefuls at Sierra College was cancelled, but all four GOP candidates will have a chance to discuss issues on air in KFBK 1530’s studios. Republican candidates Suzanne Jones, a Citrus Heights attorney, and Cedar Ridge resident Theodore Terbolizard, said last week they wanted to participate in Wednesday’s planned debate between former Congressman Doug Ose, R-Sacramento, and state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks. But organizers said they didn’t want to take time away from the “viable candidates.” Terbolizard said he was planning on filing a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission until he got word the debate would be cancelled. “I think this was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Terbolizard said Wednesday. “After all the e-mails and phone calls and the Auburn Journal’s story, organizers decided to back out. I think this shows the public can get something done and change something that is wrongful. There are lots of little victories and defeats in a campaign and this is definitely one of those victories.” Jones said she is disappointed the public will not be able to see the debate, but is pleased she and Terbolizard will be able to participate on the radio. “I am excited, needless to say,” Jones said. “I am disappointed they had to withdraw the public forum. I wish the public could have seen us and not just hear us, but at least we can participate and present our platform and say, ‘hey, we are candidates and we are here.’” The Sierra College debate was being sponsored by the Citizen Voice, in partnership with KFBK 1530 NewsTalk radio and the Roseville Chamber of Commerce. Phone calls to both Gary Dietrich, chief executive officer and founder of Citizen Voice, and Wendy Gerig, chief executive officer of the Roseville Chamber of Commerce, were not immediately returned Wednesday seeking comment as to why the debate was canceled. A message on the Roseville Chamber’s homepage indicates the debate was cancelled following security concerns. “Due to security concerns that have been referred to law enforcement, the 4th District candidate forum scheduled for May 28 at Sierra College has been cancelled,” the message states. “We are sincerely disappointed that these increasingly significant concerns necessitated this step.” Gerig said last week that after a discussion 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 attendees with as much information about the two candidates that we can.” McClintock spokesman Stan Devereux said Wednesday that the state senator will not participate in another debate planned for Thursday in downtown Sacramento, after Lincoln Club organizers failed to get back to him on a request to include all four Republican candidates. “Why shouldn’t all candidates have an opportunity to talk about their thoughts on the issues? That is what a democracy is all about,” Devereux said. “Tom is pleased to have Suzanne and Ted join tonight’s debate and he continues to encourage different thoughts and different opinions.” Ose spokesman Doug Elmets said Wednesday that the former congressman also encourages an open debate among all the candidates, but said McClintock’s reasons for pulling out of the final debate before the June 3 primary was an excuse. “The reality is that Doug Ose is happy to have the other candidates and frankly anyone running for the 4th District to have their voices heard, but I think it appears as though Tom McClintock is running scared,” Elmets said. “I think it is a sorry excuse and he doesn’t want to get on the same podium with other candidates who might question him as Doug Ose has.” Devereux said the encountered attacks against McClintock will end Wednesday. “Doug Ose has repeatedly impugned the patriotism and integrity of Tom McClintock,” Devereux said. “The attacks end tonight. It ends at tonight’s debate.” The Journal’s Jenna Nielsen can be reached at jennan@goldcountrymedia.com or comment on this story on auburnjournal.com.