Sgt. Joe McGill, who is challenging incumbent Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly in November’s general election, says he was “ambushed” by his opponent at a last-minute political event on Monday night at the Pahrump Senior Center.
The law enforcement officials have been in a hotly contested race after emerging as the top-two vote getters in this June’s primary.
An upcoming debate between the two candidates had been planned for Oct. 15, McGill said, but was suddenly rescheduled for Monday night in the “11th hour” at a new venue with little to no notice.
“The only way I knew about this was third-hand,” McGill said, noting that Wehrly’s campaign assistant Janice Maurizio confirmed the last-minute changes at last weekend’s fall festival. “I have still not spoken to Sharon in spite of several calls and text messages that she has not responded to.”
McGill said he ultimately decided to attend Monday night’s debate — but only as a spectator — because it wasn’t properly advertised, and the candidates had not mutually agreed upon the rules, format, new location and moderators of the debate.
McGill said he was sitting quietly in the back of the room at Monday’s event when he was “ambushed” by his opponent. Wehrly publicly called him out, he said, and invited him to the microphone to engage with her in front of mostly her supporters with “no explanation.”
“[Wehrly] challenged me to participate in a debate format that she chose, meaning that she would be out of the room while I spoke and I would be out of the room while she spoke,” he said. “Sharon changed the format of the entire thing. She wanted me in a secluded room while she answered questions and then her in a secluded room while I answered questions.”
The Pahrump Valley Times reached out to Sheriff Wehrly for comments after Monday’s event but had not received a response by press time on Thursday afternoon.
A full recording of the event can be viewed on KPVM’s Facebook page.
“There is no question in my mind that Sharon was trying to make me look like I was afraid of her, and that backfired tremendously on her,” McGill said. “She threw me into a pool of sharks, being her supporters, and I came out unscathed.”
McGill said he was in a position where he was “backed against the wall.”
“But I was not afraid of her,” he said. “[Wehrly] was hoping — I’m sure — that I was not going to participate, so that she could say that I was afraid to debate her.”
McGill said he still would like to have “an actual debate” against Wehrly with “the two of us standing side-by-side” on Oct. 15, but his opponent has not acknowledged his invitation.
Both Wehrly and McGill have upcoming meet-and-greets.
Wehrly’s next event is scheduled for Oct. 10, from 5-8 p.m. at the Pahrump Nugget.
McGill’s event will be at Martell Market in Amargosa, 1775 West Amargosa Farm Road, from 1-4 p.m.. There will be free hot dogs.
The general election between the two candidates is Nov. 8.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at email@example.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes