"We hear a lot of talk from my opponent about fair and open government. This was certainly not a 'fair and open' process regarding this debate," Sprague said.
Garcia, however, said Sprague's unwillingness to participate in the debate is the voter's loss.
"In 2005, many people said the debates helped them make a decision on who they wanted to vote for. I am clearly disappointed, and I think the people of Essex County will be disappointed as well," Garcia said.
Sprague, on the other hand, said she welcomes a debate - but said it should be a debate between candidates representing the two major parties. That should happen after the primary vote, Sprague said, because Garcia may end up on both the Republican and Democratic lines.
"I am not trying to avoid a debate, we need to see who is going to be on the Republican ticket. That's when you have a debate," Sprague said.
Sprague said she is fully anticipating a two-party race in November, which she said makes for a healthy debate over the values for which each stand.
Garcia said county voters want a government that is transparent and accountable. Speaking openly about where candidates stand on issues is important to that process, she said.
"I believe there should be openness in the political process and public debates are a great way for the voters to get a chance to meet the candidates and ask questions. Unfortunately, the Republican Party leadership and their endorsed candidate do not seem to share this philosophy," Garcia said.