UOG cancels 2022 Great Debate
Updated: Oct 28
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The much-awaited showdown between gubernatorial candidates, considered a grand political event preceding the gubernatorial race, is not happening this year.
The University of Guam has canceled the 2022 Great Gubernatorial Debate scheduled for Nov. 3 at the UOG Calvo Fieldhouse due to the Democratic team's decision "not to share the stage" with its Republican camp, in response to its previous boycott of forums organized by different organizations.
"Tony and I are disappointed by the decision of our opponent not to participate and to deny the students and the public, in general, the opportunity to hear the plans to address the issues that matter most to the people of Guam," Republican candidate and former governor Felix Camacho said in a video message.
Camacho and Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero engaged in a debate during a gubernatorial debate hosted by the Guam Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 7.
No face-off has since taken place. Leon Guerrero skipped the Guam Association of Realtors' virtual town hall meeting for gubernatorial candidates on Oct. 12.
Camacho said the final debate would have been an opportunity for candidates to address the undecided voters.
"Had Felix Camacho agreed to debate fairly in front of women, the free press, and CHamoru language students, Lou and Josh would have been at all debates," said Rory Respicio, spokesman for the Leon Gurrero-Tenorio campaign.
"Felix Camacho does not get to decide who counts. In this election, just like in any other election in Guam’s history, Lou and Josh believe that it’s the people who count," said Respicio, general manager of the Port Authority of Guam.
The canceled event would have been the 8th Great Debate since it was launched by UOG's School of Business and Public Administration in 1994.
"We wish all the candidates the best of luck during this election and look forward to the next Great Gubernatorial Debate in 2026," said event co-chair Reuben Bugarin.
"On behalf of the Master of Public Administration planning committee, we remind the public to vote on Nov. 8 — your voice matters," said event co-chair Iris Lapid.
The Great Debate is a student-driven initiative that provides "an opportunity for both candidates to speak on their platforms and answer questions in front of an audience of 3,000 people and streamed live for the world," UOG said in an earlier press release.
“This is a platform designed to help the voting public make informed and educated decisions based on the candidates’ responses to issues that concern the island community," Lapid said in an earlier statement. "This debate is most important to new voters and voters who are uncertain of which candidates are best fit to lead the island."
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"Every previous gubernatorial team understood the importance of the final debate and no gubernatorial team in history has skipped the gubernatorial debate," said Sen. Tony Ada, Camacho's running mate.
In a separate statement, the Camacho-Ada campaign noted, "For nearly three decades, hundreds of island residents and the electorate had watched the UOG event in the past with great interest to learn more about the direction of the island from the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor of Guam. The tradition of public discourse will forever be changed by the absence of this event."
Camacho previously turned down invitations to participate in the forums and debates organized by the Guam media, the Guam Women's Chamber of Commerce and the University of Guam Student Organization.