SHELBY CO., Tenn. - The debate between mayoral candidates for Shelby County for the upcoming election almost didn’t happen.
Democrat Lee Harris and Republican David Lenoir clashed on issues of education, crime and health care inside the National Civil Rights Museum in Downtown Memphis Tuesday night.
However, Lenoir threatened to back out over the event because of the first selection of the moderator – local Journalist Wendi Thomas.
In his opening remarks, Lenoir said he had become “aware of biased public statements after her selection as a moderator.”
- Man shot in the head over social media dispute
- Murder suspect laughed as he left Memphis club after fatally shooting woman, witnesses say
- Memphis mother charged in baby's death, tried to kill herself before police arrived
- PHOTOS: Mid-South’s Most Wanted Fugitives
Thomas told FOX13 Lenoir’s claims are false, and she bowed out as moderator to not be a distraction.
However, she said the issue might resonate with the voters.
“Is it important for a candidate to keep their word?” Thomas said. “Is it important to them to have a candidate that sets the terms for which they communicate with the public?"
FOX13’s Greg Coy spoke with the candidate about that decision.
Lenoir said he would not avoid interviews with reporters with whom he might disagree.
Harris echoed that statement, adding that answering tough questions is part of the job.
“There are a lot of reporters I don’t like but the point is you have to answer the really tough questions," Harris said.
During the debate, both candidates showed sharp differences in how they would fund education and how they would deal with crime.
Early voting begins on Friday.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.