Radnor Township’s Republican candidates for Commissioner bowed out of Wednesday’s League of Women Voters forum, citing an issue with a format change.
In an email on Saturday, October 12, Alan Brink, chair of the Radnor Republican Party, wrote to Gayla McCluskey of the Radnor Township League of Women Voters that the candidates would not take part “because your group has unilaterally chosen to change the traditional format with less than a week before the event and without input from either candidate or campaign.”
The day before, McCluskey had written that the League’s board had to approve the format in its meeting Thursday, which is why they were not notified earlier.
“Our standard format is to allow the candidates to present an opening statement, answers questions from the League, answer questions from the audience, and finish with a closing statement. The only change to this involved the manner in which the candidates were to have answered the League’s questions,” read a statement made at Wednesday night’s forum.
“In previous forums, the candidates for all the wards were asked and responded to each question. Tonight, we had planned to pair the candidates for the wards to answer the questions and allow a longer period of discussion up to ten minutes per pair for each of the two league questions. In addition for the first time, the candidates were supplied the League questions in advance,” the statement continued.
After two-minute opening statements, the League was to pose two broad questions - one on the great amount of development/redevelopment currently being considered in Radnor and a second on funding current and future obligations.
“We are disappointed that because we have only one party represented that the League cannot allow the candidates to answer these questions,” read the statement. League rules do not allow an empty seat debate, but they did allow the candidates who were there to present their opening statements.
We are using this approach because we believe the voters want to know each candidates thoughts about out Township’s future in a board and specific sense,” McCluskey wrote in an email to Brink days before the scheduled event.
But Brink told Radnor Patch that the “discussion” format would put his commissioner candidates at a disadvantage not being incumbents.
In Ward Two, neither Democratic candidate Diane Edbril nor Republican candidate Rich Booker are incumbents. In the Fourth Ward, Democratic candidate Elaine Paul Schaefer is an incumbent; Al Phelan is the Republican challenger. In the Sixth Ward, Republican incumbent Donald Curley is running unopposed (his Democratic challenger has since moved out of the township).
“If they had done it the way they always would we would have been there,” Brink told Radnor Patch.
Incumbent Treasurer candidate John Osborne, a Republican, did not take part because of a “possible ethics violation filing” against his Democratic challenger Commissioner Bill Spingler (Ward 3).
“The public is probably the loser in this situation because they don’t have the kind of information they need to be informed voters,” said Roberta Winters, president of the Radnor Township League of Women Voters. “Our goal is to provide information to the public so they can be informed voters.”
“We regret the Republican Party had questions about the format and found it unacceptable," Winters said.
Brink said he is uncertain if the Republican slate of School Board candidates will participate in the League’s forum set for October 21.
He said he does not think that the candidates who skipped the forum will suffer on Election Day.
“I don’t think that many people watch it,” he said. “I think these debates are a relic of the past.”