PALM DESERT — With less than a month before the June 5 election, Palm Desert City Councilwoman and Supervisorial candidate Jan Harnik claims Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel “Manny” Perez is ducking her challenge to a pair of debates – both before Memorial Day.

But is he?

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Jan Harnik

“Supervisor Perez has had time to extract hundreds of thousands of dollars from special interests who have issues before him on the board of supervisors, but can’t find an hour to answer questions from voters,” Harnik claims in a prepared statement.

In her prepared statement, Harnik claims Perez had agreed to a forum hosted by the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce on May 31, but withdrew citing unspecified schedule conflicts, and refusing to provide any other dates for a debate.

Katie Stice, chief of staff for the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce, said nothing of either candidate committing or withdrawing.

“We attempted to organize one but we couldn’t get both candidates,” Stice told Uken Report. “Therefore, we were unable to offer this.”

Asked specifically if one candidate or the other had committed and withdrawn, Stice said, “We could not get both on the same date.”

That is not unusual when you have two professional people with hectic campaign schedules in addition to their regular work obligations.

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(Photo courtesy of V. Manuel Perez)

“Supervisor Manuel Perez is an accessible and responsive public servant who appears at dozens of public events each week,” a spokesperson for the Supervisor’s campaign told Uken Report. “Jan Harnik’s press release, sent out by her Sacramento consulting team, is the first that anyone has heard of her wanting to debate. With less than four weeks before the election, Jan’s campaign is getting desperate.”

The Palm Desert Area Chamber of Commerce also tried to organize a debate, according to Harnik. She agreed to participate, but Perez again refused to provide a date, Harnik said. A spokeswoman for the Palm Desert Area Chamber of Commerce told Uken Report on Friday that she was unaware of any such effort. The interim CEO was out of the office and unavailable for comment until Wednesday.

“Voters have a right to question candidates about their records, their stands on the issues and their values and Perez is denying the electorate of that right,” Harnik said in the news release.

The supervisor’s race will be decided on June 5.

Riverside County’s Fourth District is the largest of the county’s five districts, stretching from Desert Hot Springs to Blythe.