Ron Shoemaker, city councilman and Warsaw mayoral candidate, has officially declined to participate in the only debate currently scheduled before the Republican May primary.

Incumbent Mayor Joe Thallemer confirmed early on he would participate in the April 11 debate and recently reaffirmed he would be there. It’s scheduled for 6 p.m. at Lakeview Middle School, just a couple of blocks from where Shoemaker scheduled a listening tour stop from 6 to 8 p.m. April 11 in the Shrine building at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds.

The debate was organized by News Now Warsaw and its news and content director, Carli Luca. Questions from the community will be asked by panelists representing four local news agencies and the Warsaw Community High School Student Council.

In a statement this morning from Luca, she said Shoemaker “has officially declined to participate in the Warsaw Mayoral Candidate Debate on April 11. He sent his response via email to News Now Warsaw on Sunday, March 24. This came after organizers had reached out to him February 25, March 11 and March 22 to see if he would be willing to meet in person to discuss the event.

“Both candidates were invited to participate after they filed candidacy. News Now Warsaw moved forward with plans to book the venue, schedule the panelists, and begin collecting questions from the community on January 23 after reaching out to Councilman Shoemaker several times about the debate. “

She said two podiums will still be available on stage at the debate.

“News Now Warsaw wants to ensure Councilman Shoemaker’s spot at the debate is still available should he decide he wants to attend and answer questions written by community members,” she said.

She also provided a copy of Shoemaker’s email declining to attend the debate. In it, he says, “Despite best efforts, we have been unable to negotiate terms acceptable to all parties. I decline your most recent offer due to you orchestrating this event without my commitment.”

He then says everyone is invited to his listening tour on April 11 and 18 with his desired goal being a “mayor for everyone.”

In an interview March 15, Shoemaker told the Times-Union he never agreed to the mayoral debate. He said, “I never agreed to do this thing. I explained to them it’s not a partisan event. This is a Republican Party primary. The party needs to be in control of this.”