Ron Shoemaker’s participation in Warsaw mayoral candidate debate remains unconfirmed

It appears that Warsaw Councilman and mayoral candidate Ron Shoemaker may not be attending the Warsaw Mayoral Candidate Debate at Lakeview Middle School on April 11 at 6 p.m.

Ron Shoemaker has still not reached out to News Now Warsaw to confirm his participation or decline the invitation, despite giving comment to Ink Free and the Times-Union regarding the debate. On March 13, Shoemaker’s candidacy page posted a “Listening Tour” event on Facebook at the same date & time as the debate. This came as a surprise to the debate organizers, as he had been communicating with News Director Carli Luca about the debate, showing interest in attending if some changes were made.

News Now Warsaw would like to release these email communications in an effort to be transparent and dispel any misperceptions about the debate planning process.

The email correspondence begins with an invitation to participate in the debate, sent January 18, the date of Ron Shoemaker’s filing for candidacy:

Ron Shoemaker replies January 21:

In order to secure a venue, arrange for panelists, and begin collecting community questions, News Now Warsaw set a date for the debate. Prior to sharing the debate date with the public on air or online, News Now reached out to Councilman Shoemaker on January 23 to let him know:

Ron Shoemaker responds on February 21:

Given Councilman Shoemaker’s concerns, News Now Warsaw responds the same day to address each item mentioned in his email:

Ron Shoemaker responds on February 25:

News Now Warsaw responds on the same day to request an in-person meeting, primarily to discuss Councilman Shoemaker’s request to include Common Council candidates in the debate:

After the News Now Warsaw request to meet in person was sent on February 25, there has been no response from Councilman Shoemaker. A follow-up phone call was made Monday March 11, but no response was received to that either.

News Now Warsaw feels the request to have all Warsaw Common Council candidates participate in the mayoral debate on April 11 is a difficult one to accommodate, logistically. The event is only two hours, making it hard to give as many as 12 total candidates time to answer community questions. The goal was to focus on the mayoral candidates to give the community a direct line of communication with them. Social media shows that many Warsaw residents have questions and concerns about the future of the city, and News Now Warsaw wanted to give those residents a voice. While the Common Council races are important as well, the intention of this event was to focus on the candidates seeking the highest office at City Hall.

When discussing the debate with the Times-Union, Shoemaker cited the lack of involvement of the Republican Party. The newspaper said Shoemaker claims News Now Warsaw has never discussed the debate with the Republican Party.

As the above screenshots show, Shoemaker first suggested the Republican Party be involved in an email on February 21. News Director Carli Luca responded on the same day, saying “I would be happy to reach out to Mike Ragan of the Kosciusko County GOP Party to get his assistance in planning the debate. I think his involvement would be very helpful throughout this process, and I’m really glad you brought it up.”

She then emailed Mike Ragan the same day:

They set up plans to meet on Friday March 8 at 2 p.m., but Luca had to reschedule because of a change in her flight when returning from vacation. News Now Warsaw would still like the involvement of the Kosciusko County GOP Party and plans to meet with Ragan ahead of the April 11 debate.

Furthermore, the Times-Union reports there’s never been a political party in charge of the prior political debates in the county for a number of years. A mayoral debate was hosted by Kosciusko Silent No More in March 2011, followed by one in April 2011 hosted by the Times-Union. Other debates have been hosted by the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Women’s Club, but none by a political party.

Another concern cited by Shoemaker in his statement to the Times-Union is media bias.

He requested via email that a representative from Ink Free News be added to the panel– a request that News Now Warsaw immediately accomodated. In a Facebook comment on an Ink Free story about the debate, the Ron Shoemaker for Mayor page implied that News Now Warsaw had media bias. While News Now Warsaw contends that is not the case, they have also made every effort to ensure that concern will not affect the candidates during the debate.

All questions that are asked at the debate are to be ones written and submitted by members of the community– not News Now Warsaw or any other news agency. The questions will be read to the candidates by panelists from WNDU-TV, the Times-Union, Ink Free, and the Warsaw Community High School Student Council. That means a representative from News Now Warsaw will not be reading the questions aloud at the debate, either.

The role News Now Warsaw has had in the debate planning process is securing a venue, inviting the candidates and panelists to participate, and creating a form for community members to use to submit their questions. News Director Carli Luca will act as a host on April 11, meaning she will introduce the candidates and panelists, and explain the debate rules before the questions are asked.

Councilman Shoemaker has been made aware of the debate format, including the information that all questions would be submitted by the community and asked by panelists, since February 7 when News Now Warsaw sent those details to the two email addresses for Ron Shoemaker that they had. A third email address was used by Shoemaker on February 21, and the debate details were forwarded to that email address as well at that time.

In addition to communications about the debate, News Now Warsaw has invited Councilman and mayoral candidate Ron Shoemaker in for an interview about his candidacy multiple times since he announced he was running for mayor on January 18.

Emails inviting him in to do an interview were sent January 18, January 28, February 6, and February 18. Additional emails inviting Shoemaker in to do an interview ahead of the State of the City address were sent February 20 and February 21. Numerous phone calls have continually been made from January 18 through as recently as last week.

News Now Warsaw continues to extend the invitation to participate in the Warsaw Mayoral Candidate Debate on April 11 at 6 p.m. to Councilman Ron Shoemaker. The event will go on as scheduled, with space on stage available for both he and incumbent Mayor Joe Thallemer.

Those interested in submitting community questions that will be asked of the candidates that attend the debate can do so here: