State House candidate Aaron Kaufer challenged incumbent Rep. Phyllis Mundy to a series of debates this fall, and though she has agreed to participate in at least one, Kaufer is not happy with her choice of the host.
Mundy has said she would help to organize a debate through the League of Women Voters.
But Kaufer, a Republican from Kingston, said that organization is too closely aligned with Mundy, a charge both Mundy, D-Kingston, and the league denied.
In an email Wednesday, Kaufer noted the League of Women Voters is "an organization that Mundy formally presided over as president."
Mundy scoffed at the notion her time as president, which occurred from 1985 to 1989, would have any impact on the "fairness and impartiality" of the league's ability to host a debate.
She said the league has hosted debates in the district previously, including 2010, and her GOP and Libertarian opponents at the time did not raise the issue.
Kaufer said he doesn't doubt the league's fairness but questions why another organization shouldn't also organize a debate.
"While I'm confident that the League of Women Voters would hold an impartial debate, it is unfair for Rep. Mundy to suggest this as the only debate venue," he said. "We need to hold multiple debates with various moderators to ensure a fair and informative series of debates."
Kaufer has suggested several impartial moderators, such as the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce or a local newspaper or television station.
"If we are to get serious about having true impartial debates, we need to make sure the moderators are 100 percent objective," he said.
Mundy has served Luzerne County in the state House since 1991 and is the dean of the local delegation.
The 120th District serves the West Side and parts of the Back Mountain.
Kaufer said he believes debates should be held in strategic locations throughout the district including one each within the Wyoming Valley West and Wyoming Area school districts and one in the Back Mountain.
Mundy said "the district is not that large" and one debate should be sufficient.
She added the league "has a long history and a format that's very fair" and she would be open to additional debates in the district if her time allows for it, but only if the league were to host them.
Christine McLaughlin, a league member who has moderated many debates, said the league is non-partisan and there have never been any allegations directed toward it about that issue.