Barstow to host first Congressional debate
Angle, eight candidates attending
BARSTOW • Former Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle is set to moderate a Congressional candidates’ debate at Barstow Junior High School Thursday evening.
Six Republican candidates, one decline-to-state and one Democrat are attending.
The debate, sponsored by the Patriot Forum and the Forerunner Christian Fellowship Barstow, invited all 13 candidates who have filed for the race, the Forum’s president, Christina Byrne, said. The event marks the first Congressional debate to ever be held in Barstow, Byrne said.
The group had gone “above and beyond” in its attempts to reach all candidates, including contacting them by certified mail, Byrne said. Five candidates either did not respond or declined to participate.
San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, Assemblyman Paul Cook and Dennis Albertson of Apple Valley did not respond to invitations, and accountant Paul Liberatore chose not to attend, Byrne said.
Democratic candidate Jackie Conaway also declined to participate in the debate, citing Angle’s involvement.
Conaway would attend a debate sponsored by a nonpartisan group like the League of Women Voters and with a moderator who lacks Angle’s “extremist agenda,” her husband, attorney Bob Conaway, wrote in an e-mail. Reached by phone Monday, Jackie Conaway declined to comment.
Angle, who drew national attention in 2010 for her losing race against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, decided not to run for office this year and is working on a documentary about voter fraud.
Angle said that despite her conservative views, Democratic candidates had nothing to fear from her involvement. She said she would be reading questions submitted by audience members and would not be asking her own questions of the candidates.
“I don’t have any candidates in this race,” Angle said.
Audience members will be encouraged to write questions on note cards as they enter, Byrne said. The questions will then be given to a question committee composed of Patriot Forum organization members, Byrne said.
Byrne said the group was nonpartisan, had members of several political parties and was not seeking to favor any candidates. The group plans to allow all candidates to answer each question “so we cannot be accused of being biased or unfair,” Byrne said.
After the two-hour debate has finished, candidates or their representatives will sit at tables for an additional hour where voters can browse and interact with them, Byrne said.
Byrne said the debate was a rare opportunity for Barstow residents to interact with candidates who could one day represent them.
“It’s a big deal for this town,” Byrne said.
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Eighth District Congressional Debate
Candidates confirmed for debate: Anthony Adams, no party preference, attorney and former Assemblyman from Hesperia; George Craig, R, Apple Valley doctor; Gregg Imus, R, homebuilder from Lake Arrowhead; Bill Jensen, R, former Hesperia mayor; Ryan McEachron, R, Victorville mayor; Joseph Napolitano, R, Helendale handyman; John Pinkerton, D, high school counselor from Pinon Hills; and Angela Valles, R, Victorville city councilwoman.
When: Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: Barstow Junior High School, 1000 Armory Rd.