To the editor:
Debating the issues, in front of voters, is a time-honored tradition in American politics. Voters want to make informed decisions, and debates are always an effective means to help voters make the right decisions on how to use their voting power. Most recently, the three presidential debates in 2012 were watched by tens of millions of voters eager to hear directly from the candidates.
In Moorestown, debates have always been part of this tradition. On our ballot for Nov. 6, there are contests for president, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, Burlington County Freeholders, Moorestown Township Council and the Moorestown Board of Education. All of these races, with one exception, have had at least one public and moderated debate. In most races, there have been several debates for each race. Yet, there is one glaring omission: the Moorestown Township Council.
As I understand it, . Yet their opponents—Republicans Phil Garwood, Victoria Napolitano and Peter Palko—refused the invitation then and still refuse even now to appear in a debate in the presence of Moorestown voters. I find this very troubling. Why are these three candidates afraid to face the voters? What questions do they fear? Is it the town hall/library debacle, for which the preceding administration—under the control of their party—is responsible? The continued failure of that administration to revitalize the downtown? That they, who are just as much under the control of that party, may have no more vision for our town than those whom they hope to succeed? Something else?
Just two days ago, I received a robocall from Victoria Napolitano, saying the Republican candidates don’t believe in “staged debates.” I have to disagree with Mrs. Napolitano. The debates by the presidential candidates, by the Senate candidates, by the Congressional candidates, by the Burlington County Freeholder candidates and by the school board candidates were not “staged debates.” They were real opportunities for the voters to educate themselves, to learn more about the candidates, and to provide an independent forum where the candidates are held to answering their questions. Candidates dodge a debate only where they know the record on which they and their predecessors stand is one of waste and mismanagement.
I ask Moorestown voters to give serious consideration to this issue when you vote on Nov. 6 as you consider which candidates are truly demonstrating transparency on where they stand on the issues that are so important to our township. For this and many other reasons, I’m supporting Greg Newcomer, Brian Sattinger and Mark Hines.
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