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Reader seeks debate between congressional candidates

To the Editor:
Two individuals, Blair Walsingham and Diana Harshbarger, are currently running against each other for the Tennessee First District Congressional seat which has been occupied for six terms by Phil Roe. This provides voters with an opportunity they have not had for 12 years!
It has come to my attention on more than one occasion that candidate Harshbarger has refused to engage in a one-on-one debate with her opponent, which I find both puzzling and concerning. As a conscientious voter, I feel that interactive engagement, both among candidates themselves, as well as with voters, is and should be an integral part of the campaign process. In my opinion, seeing and hearing for myself how candidates respond to questions, and communicate positions is essential, and in fact has always weighed heavily in my final decision making process.
It’s my understanding that there are some local groups, such as the League of Women Voters TN and Indivisible Greene County, TN, who would very much like to host forums which would provide Harshbarger and Walsingham the opportunity to touch base in real time not only with each other, but even more importantly with genuinely interested voters. If a debate is not an option, why not an online virtual non-partisan moderated question & answer forum? Voters should have the opportunity to see how candidates answer pressing voters questions, their direction if elected and their plans for improving East Tennessee. This will help us as voters determine the best qualified candidate for the job — that job being to represent their best interests in the US Congress.
I urge First Congressional District voters to encourage Diana Harshbarger to make every effort to better connect in this election. She can be contacted through her website at www.votediana.com or her Facebook page: Diana for Congress. Contact Walsingham at: www.blairforcongress.com or on Facebook: Blair for Congress – Tennessee 1st

Deborah Ratchman
Parrottsville