An Illinois Senate hopeful has challenged his opponent to what he calls a “Lincoln/Douglas-style” debate.
Republican is facing Democrat Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant in the race to represent the newly formed 49th District.
Peck, who serves on the village board, issued a press release Wednesday calling on Bertino-Tarrant to join him at a debate sometime in mid-October.
“As a private citizen, I always got tired of learning about where those running for office stood on issues through television commercials and campaign literature.” Peck said. “Now that I am a candidate, I want to bring an open dialogue to the public and give them the choice as to what they think is best for them and their families from a source they may not be used to, the candidate’s own mouth.”
Bertino-Tarrant, who confirmed that Peck did send her two letters over Labor Day weekend, is declining Peck's invitation, but said she's more than willing to engage in debate.
“In just over two weeks, both candidates will be answering the voters’ questions at an open event in the Grand Haven community, one of at least four public forums and debates already on our calendar,” Bertino-Tarrant campaign spokesman Mike Carson said in an email. "We are not planning on coordinating a separate debate with Mr. Peck."
The Grand Haven event, co-sponsored by Lewis University, is slated for Sept. 20 at Lewis, 1 University Parkway, Romeoville.
“Jennifer is always looking for ways to speak directly to residents of the district at events held by community groups, and we are excited about the many opportunities that both candidates will have to discuss their goals for the 49th District,” Carson said.
Currently, Bertino-Tarrant serves as the Will County regional superintendent of schools.
Peck is calling for a two-hour debate at what he refers to as a “neutral venue” in neither candidate’s hometown. Peck is a Plainfield resident, while Bertino-Tarrant lives in Shorewood.
At the debate, Peck said, citizens would be invited to attend and ask questions throughout the event, and both candidates would be able to come armed with notes or prepared statements.
“I believe there are few better examples of explaining who you are and what you stand for than Lincoln-Douglas style debates, and no better way of having a direct, yet respectful, discourse with an opponent on issues,” Peck said.
In addition to taking part in debates, Carson said Bertino-Tarrant is working to engage with voters one-on-one.
“Jennifer has knocked on thousands of doors already, and her volunteers have rang tens of thousands of doorbells over the last few months to talk about the issues with their neighbors in the district,” Carson said. “While Jennifer is certainly looking forward to the series of upcoming debates, we are most excited about continuing to visit neighborhoods across the district to talk with voters about what matters to them most.”
Editor's note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the Grand Haven candidates forum would take place at the Grand Haven community. It is scheduled to take place at Lewis University in Romeoville.