Friday, Sept. 26, 2008 | 12:31 a.m.
Three Democratic candidates vying for state legislative districts encompassing Sun City Summerlin were no-shows Thursday night for a debate organized by the west valley community.
Republicans Bob Beers, Senate District 6; John Hambrick, Assembly District 2; and Richard McArthur, Assembly District 4, relayed their views on taxes, education and homeowners associations to about 100 residents of Sun City Summerlin -- without rebuttals from their Democratic opponents in the Nov. 4 general election.
After the debate, Beers, the incumbent facing challenger Allison Copening, said he was disappointed the audience couldn’t hear each candidate’s stance on the issues.
“This is the time for expression of ideas and frankly for voters to be able to shop,” Beers said. “It’s tough to tell whether you want to get the box of a dozen eggs if you can’t open them up and check to make sure they aren’t sticking to the paper container.”
Copening, reached later at home, said she told the organizers weeks ago that she wouldn’t attend the debate and was surprised that they continued to promote the event with her name.
The Sun City Summerlin Residents’ Forum, a group that encourages resident participation, organized the debate. The president of the Residents’ Forum is Frank Beers, candidate Bob Beers’ father.
“This is a perfect example of Frank Beers’ tactics and why we didn’t want to participate in this particular debate ... and we don’t feel he has the ability to be objective,” Copening said. “I think it’s very disingenuous for Frank Beers to even advertise it (with her name).”
Copening also said debates are time-consuming and that she spent Thursday night meeting constituents in-person at their homes.
“I believe my time is better spent that way, rather than trying to prepare for many debates that we have been invited to participate in,” Copening said. “I want to be able to talk to my constituents one-on-one.”
Beers and Copening squared off Aug. 18 at a candidate forum and are scheduled for a second debate Oct. 16 on Vegas PBS, KLVX Channel 10. Copening said she’s turned down about six other debate requests.
McArthur faces Craig Ballew for the seat previously held by Francis Allen. McArthur beat Allen and two others in the primary election.
“It probably would have been more interesting if you had your opponents here so you can see what the difference is,” McArthur said.
Ballew said in a phone interview after the debate that he had a schedule conflict and couldn’t attend, but that he has agreed to debate McArthur on KNPR and on Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston’s show, “Face to Face.”
McArthur and Ballew each said they have never met and both are looking forward to discussing the issues. No date has been set for the debates, according to both candidates.
“It will give us an opportunity to actually meet each other and probably find out a little more about what each other’s thoughts and concerns are about the state and how we would handle it,” said Ballew, a retired high school teacher and coach.
Hambrick is contending with Carlos Blumberg for the seat vacated by Garn Mabey, who decided not to seek re-election.
Blumberg could not be reached Thursday night for comment.
During the forum, Beers reiterated his plan to curb state spending but said he disagreed with Gov. Jim Gibbons’ idea for another round of cuts in every department. McArthur said he supports making English the official language of Nevada and is in favor of denying benefits to illegal immigrants -- including the Millennium Scholarship.
Hambrick talked about his idea of splitting the Clark County School District into smaller districts to match the boundaries of the county’s municipalities and rural communities.
Jeff Pope can be reached at 990-2688 or [email protected]pub.com.