A candidates’ forum for Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools scheduled for Thursday evening and hosted by the League of Women Voters has been canceled, due to challenger Christy Lozano refusing to sign the organization’s release form, which stipulates rules and regulations of participation, including not criticizing opponents directly and not using clips of the forum for campaign purposes.
The League announced the cancelation over Twitter on Wednesday. “Because one of the candidates, Christy Lozano, would not agree to sign the required Release Form, which spells out the protocols to insure a fair and civil discussion, the League has regretfully canceled the May 12 Forum for the office of S.B. County Superintendent of Schools,” the group said.
Lozano told Jerry Roberts, host of Newsmakers with JR, that she was surprised by the announcement. She said she had been exchanging emails with Revae Moran, vice president of the League, regarding the release form when she was “suddenly given a 45-minute deadline” to sign it. “They were requiring restrictions on my ability to fully explain the problems in our county board of education, and my solutions,” Lozano told Roberts.
Another local group, the Coalition for Neighborhood Schools (CNS), attempted to organize its own last-minute debate in place of the League event scheduled for 6 p.m. this evening. In a series of texts and emails acquired by the Independent, Alice Post of CNS contacted Susan Salcido at 11:40 a.m. on Thursday, six hours before the debate would happen, offering to replace the League as the sponsor and provide moderators, explaining that Lozano had apparently already agreed to this new forum, which would not have the same regulations as the League forum. “CNS has a long history of fair and open forums,” Post wrote. “Let’s not lose this opportunity of date, place, and time for democracy.”
Salcido’s campaign manager Ruth Loomer wrote back that Salcido had already agreed to attend two other community events she had previously declined due to the forum. Post then sent a text message to Loomer, threatening to “inform the press this afternoon that Susan refused to participate in the original date, place, and time for the forum.”
Loomer reiterated that Salcido would not be available for an event that she only had a few hours’ notice of, as the League’s forum had been planned and prepared for weeks in advance. Loomer also questioned the credibility and professionalism of CNS. “Demanding attendance at a debate with only a few hours of notice and then threatening to misconstrue Susan’s reasons for not attending is unprofessional at best,” Loomer wrote. “Your behavior undermines your legitimacy as an unbiased entity.”