Zion Baptist Church invited Coleman and challenger Doug Martin to attend a Tuesday debate, yet Coleman refused, said church member Felicia Taylor.
Coleman did not return three messages left by the MDJ on Tuesday.
“I wonder why Anthony refused to debate me?” Martin said.
Martin has ideas for how to improve the quality of life in the ward. He wants to establish a program engaging neighborhood local politics and create a nonprofit that pays youth to help care for elderly residents.
But he maintains communication between elected officials and their constituents is “paramount.”
Martin alleges residents don’t know Coleman’s name or only know his name, and if they have a problem, residents don’t know who to call.
“That lack of communication is a no-no,” Martin said.
Coleman Bates Jr., who lives on Lawrence Street in Ward 5, says the two opponents should debate and tell the public their thoughts on important issues, like the proposed $68 million redevelopment bond for Franklin Road voters will take up on Tuesday.
“It tells you where they stand,” Bates said.
Coleman pleaded to a charge of assaulting Councilwoman Annette Lewis in 2012 in Cobb State Court, receiving a sentence of 12 months’ probation, 80 hours of community service, a required anger and violence evaluation and a $600 fine, in addition to court costs.
Marietta attorney Tom Browning, chairman of the Downtown Marietta Development Authority, represented Coleman in the case.
Browning said Tuesday that matter is resolved.
“That thing got completed and he did his community service,” Browning said.
Browning said the misdemeanor assault charge would remain on Coleman’s record.
Even so, Browning said he is endorsing Coleman in the race.
“He is an extraordinary councilman because he stays in such close contact with his community of constituents,” Browning said.
Browning does not find fault with Coleman for not attending the debate.
“It could be a message that he is so involved with getting around his district that it’s more important to see people in their homes eyeball to eyeball rather than a debate where probably most of the people at the debate are the campaign committee for both candidates,” Browning said.