Democratic House candidate Forrest Swall today blasted Republican opponent Bob Skahan for skipping campaign forums and distorting Swall's stand on prison reform.
Skahan said Swall's criticism wasn't justified and amounted to political mudslinging.
Swall, Skahan and Libertarian Michael Davidson, all of Lawrence, are candidates for the vacant 45th District House seat, which includes western and southern Douglas County and North Lawrence. Davidson hasn't actively campaigned.
Swall said Skahan attended only one of four candidate forums in September at which they both could have articulated their views.
"He's not discussing the issues," Swall said of Skahan. "He isn't giving voters an opportunity to tell him what they believe is important in the election.
"How are voters to make an intelligent choice if one candidate hides from them?"
SKAHAN said he didn't attend candidate forums Sept. 22, 28 and 30 in Lawrence, but was at a forum with Swall on Sept. 16 at Kansas University.
"I'd like to make all of them," Skahan said. "I've got a business to run and other things pressing in."
Swall's contention that Skahan has ducked candidate forums was "pretty low. He's just trying to stir things up," Skahan said.
Skahan said he would appear with Swall at several forums before the Nov. 3 election, but didn't want to engage in negative campaigning.
"I have not and will not get into a negative campaign that Forrest Swall wants to create," Skahan said.
SWALL SAID a survey Skahan mailed to residents of the 45th District distorted testimony Swall presented to the Kansas Legislature about prison reform.
Swall believes the prison incarceration rate in Kansas remains too high, but said he testified in support of legislation that lengthened prison terms for violent criminals, child molesters and drug dealers.
The survey mailed out by Skahan quotes Swall as having said: "There is no evidence to support the concept that (putting people in prison) works." Another quote in the survey: "Convicts should `be paid decent wages,' rather than token wages paid now."
Skahan said the opinion poll mailed to 5,200 residences in the district was fair. He said quotes used in it accurately reflect Swall's "very liberal, left-wing views on prisons."
SWALL SAID he was disturbed Skahan declined to respond to the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's 1992 election survey, published this week.
Skahan was the only candidate among Republicans or Democrats running in the 44th, 45th and 46th districts of Lawrence who didn't respond to the chamber's survey.
"I just never got to it," Skahan said.