ATL. HIGHLANDS-- Now that the Oct. 18 scheduled League of Women Voters debate among the six candidates running for the two Council seats to be decided in the November election has been cancelled by the League after four of the six candidates withdrew their intentions to participate, Councilman James Murphy and Ellen O'Dwyer responded to a request for comments on how they feel about the cancellation, what they think the cause of it is and if they have any suggestions for alternative plans.
This response came from Murphy and O'Dwyer, the GOP candidates for the two seats on the governing body suggesting an in person town hall forum for all six candidates.
To the Editor:
Ellen and I feel that all candidates are looking to provide the residents of Atlantic Highlands a platform to hear what each of us is about and how each of us would lead as part of the governing body. We believe it is important to address any questions and/or concerns of our neighboring residents and to do so with transparency and integrity. You cannot get more transparent than standing face to face with the public and addressing those questions or concerns.
Though we had a couple of issues with the LWV forum documentation, our main reason for not officially accepting the invitation was the fact that the questions are not directly coming from our residents. After weeks of going back and forth with the LWV's spokeswoman, we were told that the league can not guarantee the questions would be posed by local residents. This is a main concern to us, and we believe it should be a concern to the rest of the voters. In this current political climate, there is too much divisiveness and in our opinion a forum of this magnitude should be informative and not for entertainment.
We feel an in person town hall forum is the best way to speak directly with the voters of Atlantic Highlands and have presented that option to all four other candidates. Three out of four verbally said they would be happy to participate in an in person forum, with one stating she speaks for her running mate. It is our belief that this would be the best way to inform our residents of candidate positions and ensure that the questions being asked are directly a result of resident concerns. This is the only way to provide fair representation of all candidates.
We have multiple venues in mind and have already reached out to potential moderators for the event. We want the venue and moderator to be agreed upon by all and are welcome to any suggestions from the other four candidates. If possible, we would suggest hosting this event the same day of the previously proposed platform or the following week. We hope that all candidates can put their political views aside and focus on what is best for our community.
Jim and Ellen