RIVERDALE — Half the candidates running for elected office in the City of Riverdale skipped a public forum held Oct. 10 at City Hall as moderator Pat Pullar told the audience “they don’t care about your vote.”
Six candidates running for mayor and for City Council Wards 2 and 4 were invited to take part but only three of the six showed up: Mayor Evelyn Winn-Dixon, Ward 2 candidate Rodney Lawrence and Ward 4 incumbent Kenneth Ruffin.
Absent were outgoing Councilman and mayoral challenger An’cel Davis; Ward 2 candidate Frank Cobbs, who Pullar said had given notice he would not be attending; and Ward 4 challenger and code enforcement officer Terry Windley.
But it was Pullar, a longtime Democratic political operative who serves on the Clayton County Board of Elections, who stole the show as forum moderator.
Exhorting the crowd of about 75 to take note of who showed up and who didn’t, Pullar called it “unfortunate...when candidates feel that it’s not important enough for them to show up, but they would ask for your vote.”
Pullar also denied that she was advocating for any particular candidate or slate of candidates.
“I was accused early on of being a partisan in terms of ‘this is a fix. This is something that, you know, was cooked up by someone that’s running for office and the fix is in.’ I don’t operate like that. I would not have been in the position that I have been if I operated in such a way. I have integrity, principle and I’m almost 68 years old, and so I know how to play and how it should be played. That is a serious matter when it comes down to being a public servant....It’s evident to me, and I don’t know about you, but to me, that when people don’t show up, they don’t care about your vote. So govern yourselves accordingly. I don’t say to vote for these people. I just say, just take that into consideration.”
Pullar also decried Riverdale’s extremely low voter turnout and urged participation in the 2020 Census, saying Georgia could pick up another Congressional seat if the numbers are high enough and that that could leverage more federal highway money.
The News asked Davis, Cobbs and Windley to comment on their absence from the forum. Davis said, “I am and was not interested in a made-for-show debate. I was not informed of the format for the date. I called Mrs. Pullar and her voicemail was full, so we never had a conversation. Mrs. Pullar does not live in Riverdale and should not have made any negative comments and should have remained neutral.”
Davis added, “The citizens of Riverdale need and deserve better.... I am doing what I do best and that is meet and greet the citizens of Riverdale one-on-one and let them talk to me and I talk to them, and the overall response has been the people want change.”
The News is processing transcripts from Thursday’s hour-long candidate forum and will post segments of the candidates’ questions and answers, along with audio of the forum, as these become available.