08 October, 2006

Kelly Agrees to Five Debates? Hall Campaign Says That's Debatable

Democrat John Hall, long on energy and short on cash, relatively, has been seeking five debates with Sue Kelly, the Republican incumbent who is being challenged by Hall for her seat in Congress.

Hall has proposed one debate in each of the five counties from which New York's 19th District is carved.

Kelly, the incumbent, sent out a press release earlier this week saying she has "accepted five debate invitations."

Here is the sum and substance of that release:

"New Windsor-The Kelly for Congress campaign announced today that Congresswoman Kelly has accepted five different invitations to debate her opponent in October. They include one televised debate, two editorial board debates with prominent daily newspapers in the district and two public events.

The invitations accepted include:

3:00 pm
Monday, October 16
Times Herald Record Editorial Board

7:00 pm
Monday, October 16
Orange County Farm Bureau
Warwick Town Hall
Warwick, NY

4:00 pm
Wednesday, October 18
Journal News Editorial Board

7:30 am
Tuesday, October 24
Poughkeepsie Chamber of Commerce

10:30 am
Monday, October 30
Televised Debate
Meet the Leaders, hosted by Terrance Michos
To be taped and rebroadcast on Cablevision and Time Warner Cable Systems in all five counties in the 19th Congressional District

"It is our hope that the Congresswoman's opponent will also agree to appear at these debates,” said Jay Townsend, spokesperson for Sue Kelly for Congress. Townsend also said that other debate invitations are under consideration."

The Hall campaign, says Kelly is misleading voters in the district, saying the debates Kelly has agreed to are not really debates at all. Here's their release:

Kelly Still Ducking Public Debates

BEACON, NY - Rep. Sue Kelly has yet to accept more than one public debate with Democratic congressional nominee John Hall.

Nearly three weeks ago Kelly was invited to join Hall in a series of debates in front of voters throughout the 19th Congressional District. The idea was to hold a public debate, in front of voters, in each of the five counties that comprise the district.

Hall promised to meet Kelly for the debates on the date and at the time and place of her choosing.

So far, only one offer - from the Orange County Farm Bureau in the Town of Warwick- has arrived for Hall, which he has accepted. This "forum/discussion on agricultural issues and their effect on the family owned farms" is scheduled to take place on Monday, October 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Warwick Town Hall, 132Kings Highway, Warwick, N.Y.

The Kelly campaign has tried to pass off a candidates' forum hosted by the Poughkeepsie Area Chamber of Commerce as a public debate, but it's not open to the public and the candidates will not be given a chance to respond to their opponents' statements.

Editorial board debates at the Journal News and Times Herald-Record are not open to the public either and will not be televised. Also, voters aren't invited to attend the Cablevision debate in Wappingers Falls on October 30.

There are assertions that the debate will be re-broadcast numerous times before the election, but it still won't be available to those without cable TV service, like satellite TV customers. Needless to say, voters in Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties still don’t have any opportunities to hear the two candidates publicly debate the issues- the war in Iraq, rising health care costs, protecting Social Security, energy independence and more.

And Kelly has ignored several other debate offers sponsored by groups like the League of Women Voters of Westchester. So, why is Sue Kelly ducking public debates around her district?

From where I'm sitting, you can hardly call the newspaper editorial board meetings "debates." Each candidate will be interviewed by the newspapers' editorial boards and the papers will likely endorse one of the candidates after weighing their answers. I'm not sure this furthers public discourse very much.

Both Kelly and Hall will be at the Orange County event, but they will not be permitted to question each other nor rebut anything the other has to say. And the topic, issues that affect family-owned farms, seems kind of narrow for this day and age in Orange County.

The Poughkeepsie event will be a similar format, but is not a public venue.

The TV debate is probably the only event of the five which is an actual debate. But I'm sure both candiates would find my assessment "debatable."


Kelly's radio ads so far have tried to paint Hall as someone with a history of raising taxes. Hall's campaign has been busy in the past several days debunking that theory.

Kelly points to "tax increases" when Hall was on the Saugerties school board. Hall's campaign sent out spreadsheets earlier this week showing that the Saugerties school district had the lowest cost-per-pupil ratio of any district in Dutchess and Ulster counties during the years Hall was on the school board (1996-1999). The campaign says it got its figures from the state education department's Web site.

In a phone interview, Hall spokesman Tom Staudter claimed taxes in the district were raised by a TOTAL of 4% in the years Hall sat on the board.

"The truth is John Hall is a fiscally responsible Democrat, something Sue doesn't want the public to hear in a public debate," Staudter said.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home