The debate that wasn't: Rotterdam GOP candidates blast forum which dems are no-show

At the League of Women Voters Rotterdam candidates forum Tuesday, Oct. 20, a question-and-answer portion of the event was scrapped for some candidates, prompting objections from Republican Town Board candidates Joe Suhrada and Joseph Signore.

The League had originally planned to allow the public to address local candidates for county and town offices, but when they were told the town Democratic candidates would not attend the event, they decided to forgo the public questions and give the GOP candidates two minutes to state their platform.

Some people got their feelings hurt, and the League of Woman Voters squelched their [the community members] questions, Suhrada, who is finishing up a term in the Schenectady County Legislature.

The Democrats did not attend the events because of recent accusations that their candidate for supervisor, Frank Del Gallo, was illiterate and unqualified for the job.

"They are a team [the town Democratic slate], and they believe an attack on one was an attack on all," said Bill Cooke, chairman of the Rotterdam Democratic Committee.

League representatives defended the decision to not allow questions.

"It's not a debate if only one side shows up," said President of the Schenectady League of Woman Voters Joanne Tobiessea. "An empty-chair debate would not reflect the League of Woman Voters non-partisan position."

Tobiessea said the League was notified Monday, Oct. 19, that the town Democrats would not be attend the open forum. She said the chair of the state League of Women Voters told the Schenectady branch to not have an empty debate, but the local chapter decided to still allow the other candidates to at least state their platforms in the allotted two-minute period.

"The national organization said to not let any of the town candidates speak, but we thought it would be unfair to those who came," said Maxine Borom, the moderator for the event. "We were sorry to be caught in the middle of it. We have never had this happen before."

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