CEDAR CITY — A 2nd Congressional debate hosted by the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service pits Sen. Luz Robles against Rep. Chris Stewart in his first attempt at re-election. The debate will take place on Sept. 25 in the Sterling R. Church Auditorium at Southern Utah University.
The debate is open to the public and will feature two candidates on different sides of the political spectrum. These two will face off in what Eric Kirby, executive director of the Leavitt Center, said he hopes will be an educational and informative experience for all those who attend.
This debate is made possible through the Utah Debate Commission, Kirby said, whose mission is to ensure multiple debates are held throughout the state each year; giving voters a chance to become involved and more informed about political candidates. The Leavitt Center — being part of the Commission — has helped set the requirements for those participating at the events.
“In order to debate … the candidate needs to be polling at 10 percent or higher on a respectable poll,” Kirby said. “So if they are able to show that they are getting that percent of the vote — or would get 10 percent of the vote — they would then be invited here to participate.”
While the audience will not have the opportunity to ask any questions during the actual debate, Mack Damavandi, executive council member at the Leavitt Center and intern for the Utah Debate Commission, said those wanting to have their questions answered can do so by filling out a question request form on the Commission’s website.
“These (forms) are open now and will remain open until one week prior to the debates,” Damavandi said.
A moderator, Damavandi said, will then formulate the questions and ask them. The moderator has not yet been finalized; but the Commission is considering three candidates for the position.
In previous years, both Stewart and Robles have hosted town hall meetings and public events in the Cedar City area, Kirby said, but this is the first time the two will meet face to face in a debate setting.
Performing well in the debate will be important to Stewart and Robles, Kirby said, because they will have a statewide audience watching on a live broadcast. Not only is this an opportunity for some free advertising for the two, but also a way for them to prove to the public they can stand their ground in a critical setting.
“Live debates can often make or break candidacies,” Kirby said. “Once you put a candidate on their feet in front of a live audience and start firing out questions that they have yet to see, that’s when you start to see the true colors of a candidate.”
It is important for students and the community to know where candidates stand on certain issues, Damavandi said. Some may be surprised at the answers they hear and others may feel relieved; but knowledge like that is what helps people make informed decisions during elections.
“It really makes people think about why they may be voting for a certain person,” Damavandi said. “Hopefully it will be an eye-opener to the community.”
The debate will begin at 6 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the Sterling R. Church Auditorium inside the Sharwan Smith Student Center on the SUU campus. Tickets can be picked up inside the Leavitt Center — also in the Sharwan Smith Student Center — and are free to the community on a first-come, first-served basis.
While tickets cannot yet be claimed, Kirby said the Leavitt Center will make an announcement on their website and social media when they become available.
Event details and resources
- What: 2nd Congressional Debate between Rep. Chris Stewart and Sen. Luz Robles
- When: Sept. 25 at 6 p.m.
- Where: Sterling R. Church Auditorium inside the Sharwan Smith Student Center on the SUU campus. 351 West University Boulevard, Cedar City
- Contact: Michael O. Leavitt Center | Telephone: 435-586-7868
- Utah Debate Commission | Question Submission Form
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