Walsh calls for two debates, Jackson wants four

Walsh dumps WBZ, includes RoxVote

Yawu Miller | 10/5/2017, 4:16 p.m.
The ink had barely dried on the Sept. 27 preliminary election results when Mayor Martin Walsh agreed to two debates ...
Mayor Martin Walsh Photo: Don Harney, Mayor’s Office

The ink had barely dried on the Sept. 27 preliminary election results when Mayor Martin Walsh proposed two debates against his challenger, District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson. One debate was to be hosted by conservative WBZ talk show host Dan Rea, the other by WGBH Boston Public Radio hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan.

Tito Jackson

Banner file photo

Tito Jackson

Jackson, who has called for four debates, didn’t immediately respond to Walsh’s challenge to debate on the two radio shows on which Walsh regularly appears. Both he and Walsh have been invited to a broad array of forums and debates hosted by ward committees and community groups.

Among those requesting a debate was a coalition of black, Latino and Asian community groups who back in July had invited Walsh and Jackson to participate in a forum. Jackson agreed to the forum. Walsh stalled, according to organizers.

Cheryl Crawford

Cheryl Crawford

“We were told the mayor wouldn’t make a decision until after the preliminary,” said Cheryl Crawford, executive director of MassVOTE. “I called back the day after.”

Crawford made the request on behalf of the We Decide Coalition, a group of 20 civil rights and community-based organizations representing the city’s black, Latino and Asian communities.

After seeing Walsh’s acceptance of the WBZ and WGBH debates, Crawford again asked for confirmation of his participation in the We Decide Coalition debate. On Thursday, the Walsh campaign made public the mayor’s debate schedule. The WBZ debate was dropped, due to a labor dispute between the station management and staff. But the We Decide Coalition was not included in the two debates the mayor agreed to: one with WGBH and one with RoxVote.

“Mayor Walsh has committed to participating in a forum hosted by The RoxVote Coalition, in Roxbury, and has also requested that the format be changed into a debate,” a spokeswoman for his campaign said in a statement sent to the Banner. “He also looks forward to the WGBH debate slated to air on both TV and radio on October 24th.”

Jackson told the Boston Globe Walsh’s refusal to agree to more than two debates was “disrespectful.” In his 2013 race against former at-large Councilor John Connolly, Walsh participated in three debates.

Walsh’s campaign manager, John Laadt, sent a somewhat snarky letter to Jackson, responding to his criticism.

“We understand you frustration with the state of the race so far, but Mayor Walsh has spoken to thousands of Bostonians about his plans for the next four years and will speak to thousands more before the election is over” Laadt wrote. “We both agree that the people of Boston deserve to hear about the progress that’s been made under the Mayor’s leadership and look forward to seeing you at the debate next week.”

The RoxVote Coalition, housed at Madison Park Development Corporation, includes other community development corporations and community organizations. The debate, which is scheduled for Oct. 11, will be held at Hibernian Hall.

A Walsh campaign spokeswoman said the mayor will not entertain requests for more debates than the two to which he has already agreed.