GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The presidential debates this election season have enjoyed large audiences, engaged voters and moved poll numbers. The third and final debate will occur Monday night.
Voters in West Michigan, however, will not get a single chance to see their congressional candidates debate. At a forum Friday, Democrat Steve Pestka, who is challenging Republican Congressman Justin Amash, said Amash has declined to appear at six significant candidate forums. Pestka said that shows "disrespect" for voters.
Many in the crowd of 300 senior citizens agreed with that. One man in attendance told WZZM 13: "I think a political candidate is applying for a job and when the employer says, 'I'd like you to come in for an interview at a certain time and place and, hear what you have to say,' - I think he is disrespecting his employer if he doesn't come for the interview."
Friday's forum was held by Advocates for Senior Issues at the Kroc Center. A spokesperson said invitations to the candidates went out last May. Monday, the spokesperson said Amash responded he would not attend.
When questioned about Amash's failing to debate, a campaign spokesman emailed the following response:
"Rep. Amash will not give publicity to someone like Steve Pestka, who avoids taking positions on real issues and has built his entire campaign on spreading lies about Rep. Amash's record. Pestka's hypocrisy on this issue is amazing. As a state rep, Pestka skipped 191 votes. Compare that to Rep. Amash, who is out every day meeting with voters, has never missed a vote, and is the only Congressman in the country to explain every vote publicly."