Why should voters trust no-show candidates?

Political incumbents may think they’re smart to duck joint appearances with their challengers, but skipping debates and forums is unfair to voters and feeds cynicism about the electoral process and government.

First-term U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who was eager to debate during his failed run for the Republican presidential nomination, has yet to accept any joint appearances with Democratic challenger Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, including invitations from KET’s “Kentucky Tonight” and one for an Oct. 30 debate at the University of Kentucky sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kentucky, several media outlets and the UK Student Government Association.

Kentucky voters, hungry for something deeper than soundbites and campaign ads, have every right to be disappointed in their junior senator who still has time to say yes to KET and the debate at UK.

In Lexington, Urban County Council incumbents Shevawn Akers and Russ Hensley declined invitations to participate in candidate forums sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Lexington, which makes the forums available for viewing on the League’s and the Lexington Public Library’s websites and on the library’s Channel 20.

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, also declined the League’s invitation to participate in a forum with his Democratic challenger the Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper. Barr will appear with Kemper on KET on Oct. 24.

Three other Republicans who will be on the Nov. 8 ballot declined or did not respond to the League’s invitation, including state Rep. Stan Lee and legislative challengers Ken Kearns and Daniel A. Fister.

The League canceled six forums — two council races, three state House races and the congressional race — because only one candidate accepted. Five forums will be held at the downtown library’s Farish Theatre:

Oct. 1: 10:15 a.m. council district 4, Susan Lamb, Barry Saturday; 1 p.m. House district 75, Kelly M. Flood, Gary McCollum.

Oct. 2: 1:30 p.m., state Supreme Court, Glenn Acree, Larry VanMeter; 2:15 p.m., Fayette school board district 1, Melissa Bacon, Samantha Rodarte; 3 p.m. , Fayette school board district 5, Daryl K. Love, Sharon Mofield-Boswell.

The public is invited and can submit questions to lexingtonlwv@gmail.com.

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