Merrifield accepts Fisk debate offer

       Now that a concern about religious implications is out of the way, plans are moving forward for one or more debates in the District 18 state representative's race between Democrat incumbent Michael Merrifield and Republican challenger Kyle Fisk.
       No dates have been scheduled as yet, according to Fisk's brother, Nathan, who is helping organize the campaign. He said he is working hard to line up an impartial group to serve as a moderator.
       The Merrifield campaign accepted a debate request from Fisk, a Christian minister, but in so doing added the stipulation that the moderator should not be “related to the church like Focus or the Christian Coalition, ” according to the response from Kjersten Forseth, whose company, Red Rock Strategies, is helping Merrifield with his campaign.
       Asked to elaborate later, she said in an e-mail, “Michael believes there needs to be a separation of church and state. By placing the debate in a church or an affiliate of the church (Christian Coalition or Focus on the Family), he believes we are not respecting that separation. A neutral party like a newspaper, television station or a civic organization would be preferable.”
       Nathan Fisk said that condition was fine with his brother, who had not envisioned a church connection for the debate in any case. However, Nathan Fisk added a concern that the response might indicate a negative take on Kyle Fisk as a minister/candidate. “I think the majority of folks don't have a problem with a minister running for office,” he said.
       Forseth said that while Merrifield is willing to participate, other face-to-face opportunities already have been set up. “I know there are some other organizations that are already organizing forums like the Black Leadership Forum on the 19th at the Hillside Center,” she said.
       The request letter from the Fisk campaign asked “to debate in an open and public forum. This will ensure that the substantive differences between candidates will be clear for the voting public. This district has several distinct neighborhoods and we would propose two separate meetings, one for the eastern side of the district and another for the western side.”
       District 18 includes Manitou Springs, the downtown area and the older Westside.
       In other Westside politickin'... The Fisk campaign plans is seeking volunteers Saturday, Sept. 9, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in hopes of walking all of District 18 in one day. Anyone interested is asked to come to Coronado High School, 1590 W. Fillmore St. For more information, call or call 231-5804.

Westside Pioneer article