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Guilderland candidate forum cancelled at last minute

— A scheduled forum involving candidates for local office in the Town of Guilderland was called off at the last minute when Democrats said the date and time was not amicable, nearly one month after invitations were first sent.

The forum, which was cosponsored by the League of Women Voters of Albany County, Spotlight News and the Capital Area Council of Churches, had been set for Monday, Oct. 28, at the Guilderland Public Library. It was called off Sunday, Oct. 27, when it became clear one half of the candidates would not be attending.

The League of Women Voters distributed invitations to six candidates – four for Town Board and two for supervisor – by email one month prior to the event. The three Republican candidates confirmed participation shortly thereafter. The event was publicized by Spotlight News in print and online.

After attempts were made by the League to follow up with Democratic candidates in the days that followed, Councilwoman and Democrat Patricia Slavick notified the League on Wednesday, Oct. 23, that the date was not possible for any Democratic candidate.

“The League offered to change the format or try to change the date. There was no answer to either proposal,” said Maryann Lettau, of the League of Women Voters. “The League of Women Voters, in our effort to present a balanced and fair event for voters, was unable to proceed with the plans for Oct. 28. A candidate forum cannot be a platform for one party only.”

Attempts to reach Supervisor Ken Runion and other town Democrats for comment were unsuccessful. Runion, Slavick and Councilman Paul Pastore were invited to the event.

Guilderland Republican Committee Chairman Matt Nelligan said he was disappointed the GOP candidates – Mark Grimm for supervisor, and Lee Carman and Mark Livingston for Town Board – would not be able to debate.

“The Democrats have a history of refusing to participate in debates, which I think speaks to their lack of transparency on their record,” he said. “I think the only thing that’s going on here is the Democrats want to hide from their record … it’s unfortunate for the taxpayers.”

The election is on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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