‘Debates’ go on without Byram

KINGMAN – The shows must go on, organizers say.

Although contender Les Byram has refused to debate Mayor Monica Gates, two separate groups said they would continue with plans to host forums for the public.

The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Mohave Community College intends to host a forum tonight for Gates to answer questions from students.

MCC spokeswoman Deborah Spotts said the student organization wanted to fulfill its commitment to the student body and let them have a chance to meet Gates before the May 16 general election. “The students decided that they had already promised the students that they were going to have some kind of forum, so they decided they wanted to continue,” Spotts said.

Byram said the group contacted him about debating Gates months ago, but he didn’t learn of the details until last week. Byram said the format was unacceptable. Gates said she plans to appear. Although she will be the only participant, Gates will still have just two minutes to answer 13 prepared questions submitted by students. The audience then will have the chance to ask her any other questions.

Richard Basinger, vice president of the Mohave Republican Forum, said Byram turned down an invitation to speak at his group’s meeting on May 9.

“He declined based on the fact that Monica Gates called him a liar at the Downtown Merchants meeting,” Basinger said.

The invitation to Byram remains open right up to the night of the forum, he added. The forum is for the benefit of the voting public.

“Both candidates have benefits and detriments and I think the public has a right to hear what they have to say,” Basinger said.

The group also invited Council member and candidate Jim Baker who faces fellow Council member Ray Lyons in a runoff election. Basinger said Lyons was not invited to speak at the forum because he is a Democrat. The group may extend an invitation to Lyons, Basinger said, but the focus of the forum was aimed at the mayoral race.

The MCC forum begins at 7 p.m. tonight in the Student Center of Kingman campus, 1971 Jagerson Avenue. For more information, call Spotts at 692-3075.

The Mohave Republican Forum begins at 5:30 p.m. on May 9 at the Kingman Elks Club, 900 Gates Ave. Dinner is $10 per person. For more information, call 753-5183, or 692-9872.