A League of Women Voters panel Thursday afternoon in Sanford, intended to be a platform for all the candidates in House Districts 28, 29 and 30, only showed out two Democratic candidates, Fred Marra and Ryan Neal Yadav, as well as Libertarian Steve Edmonds.
In a press release issued Friday, Marra’s campaign blasted the Republican candidates for missing “an informative three-hour discussion” on issues ranging “from fracking, to the recent push to allow students to carry weapons openly on college campuses.”
Their opponents, Jason Brodeur in HD 28, Scott Plakon in HD 29 and Bob Cortes in HD 30 were not in attendance.
Marra said he was disappointed that only half the candidates – and mostly only on one side – deigned to show up at the forum.
“It’s what our voters deserve,” Marra said. “It is an affront to our Democratic principles and practices to hide from the public simply because you think it’s not in your best interests to defend and promote your policies.”
Cortes said he had a prior engagement – speaking at a local school for Constitution Week, where he educated seventh graders on the constitution and on voting. He said he had the event set up for a month prior and was not told of the League of Women Voters’ event until more recently. He said he had a “good time.”
“They just sprung this last minute,” he told FloridaPolitics.com. “I already had this scheduled. There was no way I was going to break my word on that.”
Plakon is coming off a recent tragedy in which his wife’s Alzheimer’s disease was, apparently, accelerated after a car accident. He has previously told FloridaPolitics.com that he would be taking a break from commenting on politics for the time being to care for her.
Marra said he believed candidates had an “obligation” to show up to such events and there were “no excuses.”
“If you’re running for public office, you have an obligation that you should appear and show up,” he said. “People who are incumbents need to show up and defend their vote, defend their record. There are no excuses. Is that the way it’s going to be when they’re in the state legislature?”