By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

EDMOND, Oklahoma -- Democratic gubernatorial candidates Lt. Governor Jari Askins and Attorney General Drew Edmondson participated in the first debate Tuesday for the governor's seat.

The debate was held at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and was sponsored by Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.

For more than an hour, the two candidates debated an array of issues dealing with Oklahoma children including poverty, healthcare, teen pregnancy and childcare.

"I would continue to encourage the development of employer daycare centers much like I think INTEGRIS has one called fun and fit," Askins said.

Edmondson discussed a need to help working parents in the state.

"We also need more preschool and after school programs to help working parents deal with their children," Edmondson said.

The two candidates were most passionate about preventing child abuse.

"Our nation will not be safe until our children and our families feel safe in their own homes," Askins said.

Meanwhile Edmondson discussed punishment of child abusers.

"It is a violation of the law. It's a crime, and it must be treated as a criminal justice issue," Edmondson said.

Many of those who attended agreed with most of what they heard.

"I think both the state attorney and the Lt. Governor felt that our children are vital and they're important, and they mentioned they are our future. But believe it or not, our children are today," said Hiawatha Bouldin, who attended the debate.

The two republican candidates vying for the seat, Rep. Mary Fallin and State Senator Randy Brogdon, were invited to participate in the debate but neither came. Fallin said her congressional duties prevented her from attending. It is unclear the reason for Brogdon's absence.

"Everybody tunes in for the first one and they weren't here, and I think republicans missed a chance today to really reach a lot of folks," said Scott Mitchell, NEWS 9 political analyst.