There will be no March 28 debate between District 13 Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates and her challenger, former mayor Laura Miller. Gates late last week backed out, saying that the event sold out before she could notify her constituents. Preston Hollow People, our sister paper that organized the event, reported that the 250 seats at Preston Hollow United Methodist were booked almost immediately. Eighty people were on a waiting list. I’d waited a couple days to put this here in case they found a bigger venue, but that doesn’t appear in the cards.
I do have quotes from Gates’ campaign staffer, Adrian Bakke, who left a voicemail with publisher Pat Martin: “I’m afraid we are going to have to withdraw. Jennifer was looking forward to it, but the way it kind of ended up, we didn’t feel like it was going to fulfill the purpose of the forum.” They were concerned about capacity. Preston Hollow People and D Magazine were planning on streaming the debate on Facebook the paper had allowed anyone with a ticket to submit a question of their own for consideration.
Gates tweeted a dig at Miller, misnaming AT&T Stadium: “Searching for a bigger venue for forums – wouldn’t Cowboy Stadium be FUN!? Too bad it’s in Arlington! #Jobs #NewTaxRevenue #LostOpportunity”
Miller took her response to Facebook. It’s worth noting the idea of a debate cropped up when Miller started a Twitter account just to challenge Gates to a debate over Preston Center. Weeks later, she filed to run.
Councilwoman Jennifer Gates withdrew yesterday from a 3/28 debate we had both agreed to attend weeks ago. It was so well-received that free tickets sold out immediately, prompting a waiting list.
Why she cancelled no one knows, but it’s not because of the highly misleading email she sent to District 13 residents last night, in which she inaccurately claimed that I was part of the reason: “tickets…sold out very quickly, before either candidate had time to invite residents”.
Her characterization is false.
I would have debated in front of a crowd consisting ONLY of Jennifer’s family and friends. I would have debated in any venue of her choosing, under any rules she set, with any moderator she hand-picked.
The voters of District 13 deserve a full, robust airing of our problems — traffic and speeding, potholes and poor alleys, petty crime, zero walkability to retail centers, and the steady drumbeat of inappropriate, poorly designed, overly dense development being forced upon our neighborhoods by developers who have the upper hand due to the full support of our councilwoman.
Come on Councilwoman. Let’s debate.
I’m pleased to do it anytime, anywhere. You’re still free on March 28, and so am I.
Remember, this is a campaign. We’re far apart on the issues that are most critical to the quality of life in District 13.
Early voting starts in about a month.