Barber, Kelly

Ron Barber and Jesse Kelly

Kelly Presnell/Arizona Daily Star and David Sanders/Arizona Daily Star

Democrat Ron Barber and Republican Jesse Kelly have agreed to square off in a live, public debate on May 23 sponsored by the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Jewish Community Center.

The debate will start at 7 p.m. at the Jewish center, 3800 E. River Road. Green Party candidate Charlie Manolakis has also been invited.

The debate will feature a mix of questions from Star readers and staff members.

This is the only currently scheduled debate in which voters will be able to watch live as Barber and Kelly discuss the issues facing the district in a head-to-head format prior to the June 12 Congressional District 8 special election. It will be held in the JCC Ballroom, which seats in excess of 500 people. Seating will be first come, first served.

KUAT Channel 6 will air a candidate forum featuring Barber and Kelly on May 16 at 6 p.m. that will be taped earlier in the day. The taping of the forum is not open to the public.

Students at Vail Academy and High School tried to organize a third debate, but Barber declined the invitation.

Two debates makes the most sense, said Jennifer Cox, Barber's campaign manager, who didn't elaborate further as to why they declined.

Early ballots for the CD8 special election go out on May 17. Voters will be choosing among Barber, Kelly and Manolakis to complete the congressional term of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned in January to focus on her recovery from being shot in the head.

Ask a question

If you would like to submit a question to be considered for the May 23 debate, please send it no later than May 21 to Questions should include the submitter's name and a telephone number and/or home address. Readers will be credited by name for questions used in the debate. Addresses and telephone numbers are for verification only and will not be made public.

Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or