Incumbent Mayor Sandy Stimpson has informed the organizers of an upcoming debate that he will not attend. The incumbent has been a guest at just one forum so far in the lead-up to the 2021 mayoral election, despite having four challengers.
Stimpson will be the only candidate not appearing at a debate hosted by WKRG, Mobile United and the League of Women Voters Aug. 16. In Stimpson’s absence, the debate will feature challengers Councilman Fred Richardson, Municipal Judge Karlos Finley, business owner Michael Young and Devonette Ely, a press release from Mobile United confirmed.
“It’s our preference that all candidates attend because we believe the electorate should hear from all of them,” Mobile United Director Chris Gibson said. “It’s unfortunate (Stimpson) won’t be there.”
Stimpson’s campaign manager Stephen Worley, in a statement, didn’t completely rule out participating in other forums or debates, but confirmed that the campaign feels Stimpson communicates to voters through other channels.
“We consider every request as we receive it, taking into consideration the mayor’s schedule and official city responsibilities,” Worley wrote in a text message. “The fact of the matter is Mayor Stimpson communicates with the media and the public every day through press interviews and responses, emails, social media, community events and a nightly newsletter. Through the rest of this campaign, Mayor Stimpson will continue speaking with Mobilians about his administration’s accomplishments and plans for the next four years.”
Stimpson has appeared in one forum so far this election cycle. It was hosted by the Old Dauphin Way neighborhood association and featured all of the mayoral candidates at the time and most of the District 2 candidates. Since then, Stimpson has not appeared at any forum, or debate, including one hosted by the Mobile Baptist Sunlight District Association.
When asked about Stimpson’s absence, Worley told Lagniappe the mayor hadn’t been invited. In response, the Sunlight District Association’s Chairman the Rev. Milton L. Saffold called him a “liar.”
The run-up to the mayoral debate on Monday, Aug. 16 will include a series of candidate forums, featuring those running for Mobile City Council seats. The forums began on Monday, Aug. 2 with District 1 and will continue to Wednesday, Aug. 11 with District 7. The forums will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., while the debate will run from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Questions for the debate and forums will be culled from WKRG social media responses, as well as from the League of Women Voters and Mobile United members. All events will be broadcast live on WKRG and streamed on the channel’s website and Facebook page.
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