By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Half of the candidates invited to a political forum held Sept. 22 and televised by Curry Community Voices (CCV) failed to attend. Chris Paasch and David Brock Smith chose not to attend, and Dallas Heard’s campaign said officials could not find an invitation.

All three are Republicans.

Paasch and Smith said they would be attending future League of Women Voters (LWV) forums, but Heard spokesperson Nikolas Ruiz said Heard will be busy traveling during the forums, “and was hoping to get to one but can’t commit.”

Their absence left a lopsided dais of Democrats: Shannon Souza, Jeri Lynn Thompson and Eldon Rollins.

At the beginning of the forum –– which started an hour late because Brandt Media, the company contracted to broadcast the event, suffered a flat tire –– moderator Dane Tippman read a letter sent by Paasch stating the reasons for his absence in which Paasch said, “… there are many issues that need to be looked into for the fairness of all candidates.”

He said flyers about the event had been ‘altered’ and distributed and “the public was being mislead on many threads in multiple websites.”

Paasch said the flyer was altered by officials of the Curry County Democrats (CCD).

However, Paasch had been leaning against attending the event since June, according to statements he made in emails to King, and said he had decided against attending in an email dated July 10.

In another email to King, Steve Beyerlin, who identified himself as Paasch’s campaign manager said, “Carl your voter forum seems uncomfortable to us as we view it as an unknown. . . We know a number of folks that support Jeri Lynn (Thompson) that could throw spitballs which is something we will not do, that is a disadvantage. Thanks for your offer but we will pass for now as we feel we can get our message out in a more controlled manner.”

Smith said he had other events to attend that drew more people and allowed him to more efficiently spend his resources. However, he said he too was “put-off” by the purposeful manipulation of Mr. King’s document announcing the forum.

Carl King produced the event for CCV and said he has worked with Rotary and the county to create CCV as a non-partisan public service.

He said he commented on a posting of the “altered” document on Facebook stating he was unhappy with what the Curry Democrats had done and also emailed them about their changes to the flyer and postings.

In an email to Smith, he said, “I too found it unfortunate if it creates the impression that somehow the Democratic committee is involved with this forum.”

King also told Smith he had quit the Democratic committee because he was unhappy with the current leadership.

The original flyer provided information about the event and included the CCV logo at the top. A later flyer advertising the event and created by the CCD, looked much like the original but had dropped the logo, listed two Democratic candidates who would be present to take questions and retitled the event the Gold Beach Rotary dba Curry County Voices Candidate Forum.

CCD Chair LauRose Felicity said the organization sent out a notice for its own constituents and announcing some of the candidates it endorsed.

“We had nothing to do with setting up the forum,” she said. “Carl King sent us emails with the information and Calla took the information and used it to make posts for our social media.”

Calla Felicity is the public information officer for CCD.

LauRose added her group would not be held responsible for other people’s lack of initiative in creating their own publicity.

Because of the issues surrounding this forum, officials at KCIW were unsure which candidates would attend their upcoming forum Oct. 18.

The Sept. 22 forum can be seen on Charter channel 182, or on the CCV website: currycountyvoices.com.

It can be heard on KCIW radio, but scheduled times are not available yet.

The LWV Forums will be held Monday, Oct. 1 - Chetco Library, Brookings; Tuesday, Oct. 2 - Gold Beach City Hall; and Thursday, Oct. 4 - Port Orford City Hall. The forums are 7 to 9 p.m. and will air on CCV.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com .

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