YERINGTON -- At least four candidates for Lyon County Sheriff say they will not accept the challenge of candidate Charlie Duke to participate in three public debates.
Earlier this month, Duke sent registered letters to each of his opponents inviting them to take part in forums scheduled in Yerington on Tuesday, Dayton on Aug. 19 and Fernley on Aug. 29. John Tyson agreed to set the rules and moderate the forums.
However, in an open letter to Duke, Sheriff Sid Smith and challengers Bob Kahn, Dave Gill, and Frank Pizzo said they would be unable to attend. (Candidates John Garrison and John Nightingale did not sign the letter.)
According to their letter:
"We never received a formal invitation, or the planned questions that will be discussed during the debate. We are unable to attend the debates due to our busy schedules. We would look forward to a debate with all of the sheriff's candidates if:
"1 -- The debate is unbiased.
"2 -- The debate is set up by a party not involved with any of the candidates.
"3 - All of our candidates receive a list of questions that will be discussed so we can prepare our facts."
In response, Duke said regardless of his opponents' stance he would show up at the scheduled debate times to answer any questions residents might have.
"They obviously do not want to talk about the issues and what the public needs are. What better way to air issues and concerns and to talk about qualifications than at a public forum," Duke said.
"Asking for questions in advance is like getting the answers before a test. It would be a disservice to the public to allow them to prepare their answers. They ought to know off the top of their heads what they will be doing to best serve this county's needs."
Duke also said he could not understand why they would say they are too busy to attend.
"I have the same campaign schedule they do. I purposely arranged for dates when there were no other scheduled campaign conflicts."
Duke said he has never met Tyson and asked his campaign manager to contact him because Tyson has never lived in Lyon County and has a law enforcement background.
Tyson, a spokesman for the Storey County Sheriff's Office and KOLO-TV personality, on Tuesday confirmed was contacted by Duke's campaign manager and asked only if he would be willing to moderate the three functions. He said he has no set format at this point, and was given a free hand to set up the forums as he wished.