(DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala.) - Seven political candidates in Dauphin Island are boycotting upcoming debates, claiming they will be “unfair” and favor incumbents.
Mayoral candidates Virginia Shanahan and Shawn Perloff, along with five town council candidates teamed up for the boycott of debates hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.
The boycotters claim the Chamber President, who will act as moderator, is not neutral and has a conflict of interest because he was appointed by current Mayor Jeff Collier.
”He refuses to remove himself as moderator,” Johnny Hatcher, spokesperson for the candidates, said.
The candidates also say they only found out about the debates five days ago and have not received a list of questions.
“They should have time to prepare,” Hatcher said.
They believe the incumbents may have prior knowledge of what will be asked, and have better access to town records to prepare. The candidates allege it’s been difficult or impossible to obtain certain town records they want to inspect.
Some of the candidates claim they were never even notified the debates were happening.
“Not all the candidates were even approached, only a select few,” Hatcher said.
Chamber President Gene Fox could not be reached Sunday night for comment. Mayor Collier told Local 15 News he still plans on attending the mayoral debate. He also said he does not have any hand or influence in the organization of the debate.
The town council debate is scheduled for Thursday and the mayoral debate will be on August 16.