State Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, is rejecting an offer from his District 41 challenger to participate in a series of public debates.
Democrat Andy Talarzyk, a resident of New Whiteland and marketer for a paint distributor, last week sent a letter to Walker challenging him to debate in four communities in the district — Columbus, Edinburgh, Franklin and Greenwood — prior to the Nov. 4 general election. The first suggested debate was to be Aug. 15 in Columbus.
Walker said Talarzyk has suggested the possibility of debates before, but he indicated he currently has “no plans to create a debate schedule with Andy at this time.”
Walker pointed to his current availability to the public as a reason for declining Talarzyk’s invitation. He said he always is ready to hear from residents and, because of this, doesn’t think the debates are necessary.
“My cellphone number runs in the paper at least twice a week, and I feel as though I am open and acceptable to anyone to discuss any issue they want to talk about,” Walker said.
Talarzyk said he intended for the debates to give voters in the district a better understanding of both candidates’ political platforms and opinions.
“During the summer, I’ve been talking to the people in the district, and they don’t seem to know much about myself or about Senator Walker, what he stands for and his policies,” Talarzyk said. “I think it would be beneficial for us to discuss the issues with the public.”
Talarzyk, an Evansville native who is making his first foray into politics, said he would be disappointed if Walker were to formally decline the debates.
“I believe that debates are an important part of any campaign,” Talarzyk said.
If the debates do not take place, Talarzyk said, he hopes to create a schedule of town hall-style meetings in the district, where he would speak with voters and answer their questions.
After speaking with residents of Johnson and Bartholomew counties, Talarzyk said he identified the main issues district voters are concerned with — jobs, the economy, schools and the cost of secondary education.
He said those are the issues he expects the public will want to address.