If an incumbent elected official thinks he or she has earned another term, he or she should be confident enough to face a challenger in a debate.
Voters deserve to see candidates side by side, fielding questions from the audience or a moderator and challenging each other.
A debate is one of the few times voters even get to see the candidates in the same room, much less interacting with each other and constituents.
It's not just their answers, but how they answer that helps constituents decide which has earned their votes.
Debates, in any of their various formats, are important parts of the election process.
For that reason, we hope voters in the state's 13th Senate District will get a chance to see incumbent Republican Sen. Lloyd Smucker and Democratic challenger Tom O'Brien face off at least once before the Nov. 6 General Election.
Unfortunately, it's not looking good for the folks in the district, which includes a sliver of eastern York County.
Smucker this week turned down O'Brien's suggestion of six debates over the three months leading up to the election, saying he doesn't see the need.
"You may not be aware, but throughout my first term I have been conducting town hall meetings with my constituents and actually have one scheduled for (Aug. 7) in West Lampeter Township," Smucker replied in a letter to O'Brien.
"My Senate schedule and own town hall meetings allow me to have a great deal of contact with my constituents," he went on. "Additionally, I am certain various community organizations will hold campaign forums where the voters will get to compare our records and ideas. For these reasons, I decline your request."
First, a town hall meeting hosted by the incumbent is not the same thing as a debate. Rather, it's a meet and greet with constituents, where the incumbent is unlikely to be pressed as they would by a moderator or challenger.
Secondly, community organizations might or might not step forward to host a debate. Perhaps it would be an easier decision for those groups if they knew both candidates had already agreed to participate.
Smucker could have accepted O'Brien's suggestion of six debates -- or four, or two, or one, at least -- and together they could have solicited a third party to host and moderate.
We hope he reconsiders.
Voters need more opportunities to see both candidates together, up close and personal.
Dismissing O'Brien's suggestion might be the safest thing for the incumbent, but it shows little concern for the residents of the 13th Senate District.