A second Democratic candidate for Rochester mayor has backed out of a televised debate hosted by News 8.
Initially, all three Democratic candidates — Mayor Lovely Warren, James Sheppard, and Rachel Barnhart — agreed to participate in News 8’s debate
On Wednesday, Sheppard said he won’t take part if the incumbent mayor does not. Mayor Warren bowed out after being hospitalized last week due to a serious allergic reaction, but kept another debate with the Chamber of Commerce on the calendar.
Now, Sheppard is criticizing Warren for not participating while he himself is declining to attend.
News 8 asked Sheppard at a news conference on Wednesday: “Isn’t it hypocritical of you to sit here and talk about Mayor Warren when you’re not going to participate in WROC’s debate?”
“In terms of the debates, basically it’s a matter of running against an incumbent and as a mayor she has to stand on her record and that’s what we are prepared to do is debate her on her record,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard justified not debating Barnhart alone by saying he doesn’t feel Barnhart is a legitimate candidate because she doesn’t have a record. He says Warren has a record to stand on and essentially would be worth debating.
“Neither wants to debate me and this is terribly unfortunate,” Barnhart said. “Voters deserve to see all of the candidates. They deserve to have information.”
In place of a debate, News 8 plans to have Barnhart on during a newscast next week to discuss issues important to you.