Letter: Why do Republicans Refuse to Debate?

A Democratic supporter suggests the Republican council candidates turned down the Democrats' debate offer because they don't have much of a record to stand on.

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.

Richard Schall


Got something to say? Email letters to the editor to rob.scott@patch.com.

ML October 30, 2012 at 04:53 PM
My guess is that this story was written in advance - I guess you have power since you had time to get up and go on Patch to write negative comments instead of "recovering."
Mark Limes October 30, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Stop complaining. Reneged on that? There may not be a plan now for the courts and cops but watch what happens comes next year. You think that mail piece was negative? I didn't see any empty chairs? Where?
Rob Scott (Editor) October 30, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Gerry, I got this letter late Sunday—before the storm hit.
Rob Scott (Editor) October 30, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Hey Nineteen, Were you at the BOE forum? I was. I don't recall anyone "cheering on" Brandon Pugh.
Rob Scott (Editor) October 30, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Moorestown Voter, In fairness, the Republican candidates did sit down for an interview with me several months ago, toward the beginning of the campaign, and laid out their platform. And their campaign manager has made himself available to me on several occasions..
Tom October 30, 2012 at 06:35 PM
It's nice to see that we can have a lively debate on the issues - if that is what you call this - but the candidates who seek control of our tax dollars will not. It does show a lack of respect for the voters to hide from the process that is in place at every other level. Even the BOE held a debate and they have far less to do with the management of the town. It is possible that more than one are fearful of the questions they might have to answer about what experience and skills they have obtained that would warrant our consideration and trust. From what I have been subjected to thus far, an empty chair just might be more qualified.
Hey Jealousy October 30, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Funny how the Dem Facebook talks about empty chairs and so do the fake people who aren't on any voter lists front the township clerk. Interesting. Try harder, Gorman and Co. You're too obvious.
Darlene October 30, 2012 at 08:03 PM
So the Dems wanna talk empty chairs? Is this for real? Paging Clint Eastwood....
Mark Limes October 30, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Oh right. There are " three empty chairs" or should we now say three open seats? How about that? Who do you want in those "empty chairs" then? A lot to do before Tuesday. Let's see what last minute, 11th hour strategies work. Maybe something will stick? Don't forget about the "real" cool and green signs. Mine blew away.
evergreen200 October 31, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Maggie; Elitists? I have read the Patch for several months now. I am an independent. What is apparent to me, however, from this ongoing dialogue is that the level of naming calling and overall disrespect for people that is coming from the Republican ranks takes me back to elementary school. What is wrong with you? Are you the attack dogs for the GNP team? Are you not capable of an honest intelligent exchange of thoughts without regressing into this? Greg Cucumber, please!! Greg Newcomer is an absolute treasure for this town and I do not think there is any one in this town who can match his service, his commitment to the children of this town-the sports and the arts kids, his intellect and his know-how. He is the go-to guys for practical solutions for this town. He has done more good than all of you patch blogger taken together. Maggie- get a life or go to a doctor for your anger management please.
TrueRepublican October 31, 2012 at 02:10 AM
I think the Republicans should be watching this Town Hall contract. From what I hear, the firms who are getting this bid are the worse. They are over budgeted $30,000,000.00 dollars and a year or so late. Why is our Republican team screwing this up badly?
TrueRepublican October 31, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Debate folks... Bring it on. What are we afraid of?
S. H. R. October 31, 2012 at 04:26 AM
I think we all should talk about this....Town Hall BIds.. http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/features/f1/
S. H. R. October 31, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Let talk about how two companies who have both failed completedly to provide taxpayers good services will most likely end up screwing Moorestown Taxpayers with the Town Hall Project. Let's talk about this!
Lenola Rules October 31, 2012 at 11:22 AM
A cheap shot about lenola at 5am? For what we recall, the candidates had their gang out there all the time. The republican candidates for council have had a lot of helpers and now we hear they hit over a couple thousand doors. Their team has been out there. Yeah, they worked hard and apparently hard enough to carry Lenola on election day.
evergreen200 October 31, 2012 at 11:29 AM
For those you feel that participating in debates is nonsense, I point out my recent experience at the Medford Leas at the forum for the County freeholder candidates. It was well attended. Questions were picked at random from questions submitted and asked by trhe moderator and the candidates took turns answering first. The current freeholder Mary Ann O'Brien displayed a shocking lack of knowledge. She had no idea (I mean NO IDEA) what the county budget was. She couldn't even estimate. Yet she voted for these budgets. Aimee Belgard who is seeking her spot displayed an impressive knowledge of county affairs and county finances and had some refreshing ideas. That debate changed my vote. We spend considerably more money on county taxes than on taxes to our municipality. Ms. O'Brien appears to be a very cordial lady, but she is completely clueless. All of her answers demonstrated that. Public discussions are invaluable to the public.
DG October 31, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I am amazed by how vicious the remarks on this page are, particularly from the Republican contributors. You emulate your national leaders well. Whatever happened to disagreeing without being disagreeable? Is there no hope, even on a local level? It's a shame to know that even the Moorestown Patch isn't safe from trolls. That said, Republicans have no right to be "offended" by a public that seeks answers regarding the Republicans' inability to move construction forward on town hall for the past four (4) years. That is truly a remarkable delay. The current Republican candidates' unwillingness to have a direct public exchange with Democratic candidates for office regarding this and other local issues simply drives the point of "failed Republican leadership" home.
Mark Hines November 01, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Jeff B. - I don't know you and you don't know me, so calling me a"divisive snake" is beyond the bounds of appropriate discussion of the issues. It is not accurate and is used only by partisan surrogates to delegitimize my character. Greg, Brian and I are all people who chose to serve our community and collectively, we have served selflessly on many different committees, boards, and organizations in Moorestown. Each of us have been slandered, some in the most appalling manner, in comments on these pages and it is time to stop. Phil Garwood and Pete Palko have also done much for Moorestown, and they also deserve that respect. Victoria will do much for Moorestown, and she also deserves that respect today. All six candidates are not running for personal benefit. They are running because many people have asked them to do so, and believe that they could do good for the community. If elected, I will either turn down the modest salary (about $4400) or contribute it to a Moorestown charity. I should not benefit financially from public service. Jeff B. - your slander is beyond the limits of reasonable discourse. I have family and young children in Moorestown, I have many friends, I have contributed, and will contribute to Moorestown's well-being, and I do not deserve or merit such comments. If you chose to continue, use your real name.
Debbie November 01, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Fresh Start, do you mean the weekend when they gave 500 free pumpkins, donated by the Browning Hess family, away to families? And when tons of people came out to the tailgate in spite of a hurricane, and Dietz and Watson provided free hot dogs (more than the campaign asked for) and then anything left was donated by GNP to the volunteer firefighters during a hurricane? If you were there, use your real name - you can call it "lightly attended" easily if you didnt attend. If you were there, say who you are. What were you doing at a GOP event anyway if you hate them so much?
Debbie November 01, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Which time when she walked in Lenola? And which "escort"? She walked through Lenola 3 times, apparently, and with at least 7 different people. "Deeply concerned", who is your alleged source? Be brave, post with your real name next time.
Debbie November 01, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Easy to have a packed debate at an old folks home where people just shuffle in after dinner......
HomeBrew November 01, 2012 at 11:26 PM
The Republican Council candidates' refusal to engage in "staged debates" with their Dem rivals probably makes sense politically. They seem to be playing not to lose, probably a good strategy in GOP-dominated Moorestown. Why risk giving Dems a forum that puts them on the same stage and on an equal footing with you? Why give Dems a chance to take pot-shots, and the opportunity to demonstrate that they're equal to, or possibly better than you? Not worth the risk. Better to lay low, hand out candy and pumpkins, and pose with the local Republican heavyweights, betting that most Moorestownians aren't really paying attention and probably will vote straight "R" as long as you don't give them a reason not to. Moorestown Republicans obviously believe that informed voters are not the best voters for them. That might be good politics, but it's bad for the citizens of Moorestown.
TrueRepublican November 02, 2012 at 01:30 AM
http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/features/f1/ A real and threatening danger for Moorestown Taxpayers. It would be an honest debate.
Rob Scott (Editor) November 02, 2012 at 01:34 AM
TrueRepublican, Not to be rude, but we get the idea. Could you please stop posting the Press of Atlantic City link under everyone's comments?
Most Interesting Man in MTown November 02, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Homie-brew....This sounds like an anti GOP post.....are you getting your elephant tatoo removed and replacing it with a donkey?
Father or Son November 02, 2012 at 04:08 PM
the better question is does your daddy know you are using his screen name homebrew or is it your screen name that he uses. either way i doubt the mrmc misses you much
TrueRepublican November 04, 2012 at 02:01 AM
The disaster called Town Hall Project has from the start been mismanaged, over budgeted, and incompetently managed by our Republican council members. And, all for a $5.00 trash can fire. No one has be held accountable. Not surprised Republicans.... you gave raises to employees without any merit performances. Now, an over-budgeted unnecessary project - TOWN HALL, is being awarded to a firm with questionable competence, over budgeted costs, and excessively LATE. Still these problems persist - today. Now MR. Williams and Mr. Palko are enabling a questionable project and a questionable firm that I would not even grant permission to work on any property I own. How does Moorestown attract such losers?
DG November 05, 2012 at 05:42 PM
HomeBrew - Your point makes sense. Why give the otherside a forum if you have the edge? You only stand to lose. That's definitely part of what motivated the Repubs not to debate. Most Interesting Man in MTown - What's up with the "homie brew" comment? I wanted to relply as follows: "You know how if you have to explain to everyone that your joke is funny, it probably isn't? Similarly, if you have to tell everyone that you are the most interesting man around..." But maybe you didn't mean anything snarky by your comment, in which case my reply would be overkill. Since I don't understand the point of your remark, I'll table my reply for the moment... Father or Son - I definitely have no idea what your reply means. If you were trying to take a jab, it didn't land. I'd say try again, but I wouldn't mean it.
Most Interesting Man in MTown November 05, 2012 at 06:39 PM
DG....I don't normally respond to people who sound dumb......but when I do, I prefer the Moorestown Patch......Stay thirsty my friend
Bill November 05, 2012 at 07:04 PM
"How does Moorestown attract such losers?" I ask myself the same question every time I read something you post.


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