By Brendan Rivers, WJCT
A Republican state representative from Neptune Beach has failed to respond to invitations to a non-partisan community forum for candidates in the race for Florida House, District 11.
Susanne Barker, co-chair of Atlantic Beach Preservation, told WJCT News via email that her organization and the Jacksonville League of Women Voters have invited incumbent Cord Byrd and his Democratic opponent Joshua Hicks to the event.
Hicks said he immediately accepted the invitation.
“I welcome the opportunity to speak to the community about why I’m running for State House,” he said.
Byrd, however, has not replied to the invitation.
“As a State House Representative, we realize he may have many demands on his time and perhaps that is why he hasn’t responded,” Barker wrote. “Both of our organizations are seeking to give candidates a means to communicate with the voters. Since Mr. Byrd has a record of being available for his constituents, we expect that we will be hearing from him soon.”
Byrd has participated in similar events in the past, like this 2018 Beaches Watch candidate town hall, which has left Hicks wondering why his opponent seems to be unwilling to participate in this forum.
“It’s really troubling that someone in his position would be ignoring community events that would allow the voters to learn more about not only his values and his positions, but my values and my positions,” Hicks said.
Hicks said the forum was originally scheduled to be held on Sept. 22, but it has tentatively been pushed back to Sept. 29th as Atlantic Beach Preservation and the League of Women Voters continue to wait for a response from Rep. Byrd.
Byrd did not respond to a request for comment by the time of this story’s publication. If he responds, this story will be updated.