The Democratic candidate is willing to debate but will not commit to 15 events.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
WARREN -- Republican Ann Womer Benjamin wants to know why Timothy J. Ryan, her Democratic opponent in the 17th Congressional District race, is backing away from earlier statements that he would participate in 15 debates.
Ryan is open to debates and has agreed to participate in four of them already, but he cannot commit right now to 15 events, said Patrick Lowry, his spokesman.
"Maybe there'll be 15; maybe there'll be five debates," Lowry said. "There are various ways to get the message to the voters, and debates are one way."
At a debate June 14 among three of the four 17th District candidates, Warren Davis of Akron, who is running as an independent, called for at least 15 "New England-style town hall meetings" between the candidates. Womer Benjamin of Aurora and Ryan of Niles said at the time that they would attend the series of debates if the events could be scheduled.
Davis followed that up with letters July 8 to Ryan and Womer Benjamin suggesting the three work out dates, places and formats for the debates as soon as possible. In response, Womer Benjamin wrote July 29 that she wanted 15 debates, five each in August, September and October. Ryan did not respond to Davis' letter.
A matter of trust
"If Tim Ryan is now avoiding his June 14 promise to debate throughout the four counties in this district, how can voters trust him to keep any other campaign promises?" Womer Benjamin said. "We need to restore trust and confidence in this area."
Womer Benjamin said the voters deserve to hear all the candidates, and compare them on the issues.
"They deserve a congressman who is not afraid to appear before them and meet their questions," she said.
The fourth candidate for the 17th District won't be able to attendany debates. James A. Traficant Jr. of Poland, an independent candidate, is serving an eight-year federal prison sentence after being convicted on bribery and racketeering charges. Womer Benjamin has said, however, that Traficant could participate via telephone from prison.