By MOLLIE F. BELT
The Dallas Examiner
During The Dallas Examiner’s last Monday Night Politics: Meet the Candidates, an opportunity meant to help inform the community, turned into a slightly controversial moment. Therefore, as a courtesy to our audience and our community, I would like to explain the events that took place and why.
On Monday night, the forum featured candidates running for U.S. Representative for District 30, there was a deviation from our normal practice. The incumbent for the position, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, was not able to attend the forum, so she sent a written statement by DeMetris Sampson, a member of one of the forum’s sponsoring organization.
Prior to the beginning of the forum, Sampson told me and Christi Thomas, our timekeeper, that Johnson sent a statement for her to read to the audience since she was not able to attend. She said she had timed the statement to be 11 minutes. We informed her that she could not sit on stage with the three candidates, but that the moderator would call her to the stage at the appropriate time to read Johnson’s statement.
After the statement was read, Barbara Mallory Caraway, one of the candidates on stage, was offended because we allowed Johnson’s statement to be read. When the moderator asked her to make her opening statement, she used the platform to berate me and The Dallas Examiner for allowing Johnson’s statement to be read. She accused us of holding a “kangaroo court” and said she would not participate in the forum and she left.
This decision was not made to in any way treat one candidate more favorable than the other three candidates. The reading of the statement was allowed because Johnson was in Washington D.C. representing the district, working on important matters that would affect our community as well as the country.
This is a very serious time in our country – a hearing is being conducted to impeach the president of the United States. It is far more important for our congresswoman to be in D.C. at this time than attend an hour forum in Dallas.
Monday Night Politics: Meet the Candidates is a forum, not a debate. The purpose is to give the community an opportunity to be informed as voters – to get to know the candidates, their platforms, their accomplishments, have their questions and concerns addressed in person, etc.
The Dallas Examiner has never endorsed a candidate. All sponsors of Monday Night Politics: Meet the Candidates are nonprofits and hence do not endorse candidates. We demand that our moderators of the forums do not express favoritism, that they are objective.
While it is unfortunate that Caraway was offended, The Dallas Examiner unapologetically stands behind its decision to offer additional information to the attendees, and will continue its effort to inform and educate the community regarding political candidates and policies.