Don’t know if they’ll get what they want, but it can’t hurt to ask.
For the main show, mayoral candidate Ben Hall has called for six one-on-one debates with Mayor Annise Parker, albeit with three debates after early voting begins. Parker has rejected Hall’s proposal, agreeing only to one debate featuring multiple candidates.
Houston’s future is too important to limit the mayor’s race to one debate, and we’re far too diverse to restrict debates to an incumbent and a self-funded millionaire challenger. Putting multiple candidates on stage will provide a panoply of perspectives and a constructive conversation about our city’s needs. Municipal issues don’t always make for the most exciting discussions, but the horse-race atmosphere of elections provides a more compelling backdrop for topics like the city budget.
While we hope Ben Hall will use the debates to explain why he is spending his personal fortune on an uphill battle to unseat the mayor, the time for one-on-one debates is during a runoff. The general election should provide voters with multiple options for what our future will look like. Whether the race for mayor, controller or city council seats, voters are best served when candidates debate the issues and define what it means to be a city that is building forever.
See here for the background. It’s hardly clear to me that having candidates beyond Mayor Parker and Ben Hall in a debate will yield a “constructive conversation”. The candidates not named Parker or Hall would have to be running constructive campaigns for there to be some chance of that happening, and so far the evidence for that is lacking. The principle of democracy argues in favor of inclusiveness, but the principle of imparting useful information to as many voters as possible argues for limiting the debate to those that have something useful to say. Let whatever organizations that want to sponsor debates make their own decisions about who they want to invite, let Parker and Hall agree to abide by their decisions, and leave it at that. Campos has more.