April 16, 2014
Dear Representative Jacobs:
I noted with disappointment your announcement that you planned not to attend the April 23rd primary debate sponsored by the Dekalb Young Republicans at Oglethorpe University (http://brookhavenpost.co/young-republicans-to-host-debate-for-state-house-district-80-primary/15132). Please allow this letter to serve as notice of my willingness and intention to offer the voters of House District 80 the opportunity to observe a debate between their two announced candidates for State Representative. I hope that you will join me in ensuring that such a forum is held.
On January 27th, the Dekalb Young Republicans issued a debate invitation to both of us, as the two announced candidates for the House District 80 Republican primary election. I accepted. On February 3rd, you responded by saying that you would consider the invitation after the legislative session was over. Of course, I understood that you would need to focus your attention on legislative work instead of campaigning. Though it surprised me that you were able to spend so much time making social media posts attacking me during this time, I expected that as the former president of your debate club (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1995-08-16/news/9508150207_1_college-democrats-school-board-democratic-national-committee) you would have no trouble transferring your energy into a public forum designed to educate voters about their choice on May 20th.
As session drew to a close, I found myself fielding multiple inquiries as to whether or not a debate would happen. I publicly referred interested parties to your statement, expecting that you would keep your promise to consider the invitation after the session was over on March 20th. When no response was forthcoming, I made inquiries to Dekalb Young Republican leadership as to whether they planned to schedule a debate. On April 9th, I received an invitation to a debate set for April 23rd at Oglethorpe University, and accepted immediately.
You have cited various reasons as to why you will not attend the debate: insufficient notice, donations to my campaign from Dekalb Young Republican officers, and the pre-registration requirement for the event. It is true that I have many friends and supporters in the Dekalb YRs — as you know from your support from the Young Democrats in 2004 and 2006, being connected with young party activists is a valuable part of any campaign. However, it is my understanding that there would be a neutral moderator. While I don’t care for pre-registration either, as guests on Oglethorpe’s campus it is a courtesy I am willing to extend to our hosts. As for the issue of notice, I find it hard to believe that an invitation extended on January 27th provided you insufficient time to find dates that you were available, but am willing to re-schedule if April 23rd doesn’t suit you.
My question to you, Representative Jacobs, is simple: when and where would you like to debate? I hope you agree with me that Republican primary voters deserve the opportunity to hear from both of the candidates who will be on their ballots on May 20th — and besides, such forums are excellent opportunities to publicize conservative principles and spark interest in the GOP. Many, many voters have asked me about a debate, and I hope that you can respect their interest and agree to participate.
Catherine S. Bernard