RTC's REFUSAL SHAMEFUL

Our statement Regarding the
League of Women Voters Debate

The Republican candidates, and the Greenwich Republican Town Committee to which they have surrendered their debate decision-making, have abdicated their responsibility as public officials and as candidates seeking public office.  
 

Their collective, undemocratic decision to refuse to participate in a decades-old League of Women Voters debate event under a manufactured excuse of “unfairness” by the host fails the public’s interest which they presumably wish to serve.
 

Among its many electoral public service benefits, the LWV has served the important role of non-partisan and independent debate moderator for local elections dating back to 1920.  Questioning their “fairness” is without cause or merit, as reflected by the willingness of Republican candidates throughout Connecticut to participate in LWV-sponsored debates. The League’s letter below summarizes their fair and unbiased approach to debate protocols.
 

The primary duty of any elected representative and anyone seeking elected office is to serve the citizenry in an open, transparent and honest way.  Since the dawn of our republic, one of the primary methods to engage constituents on public policy positions is through debate.
 

Debates allow candidates a unique opportunity to express their views, positions and ultimately their votes and legislative priorities on the important issues facing our community. Equally important, debates allow the citizenry an opportunity to learn about the issues and about the person who seeks to represent them in Hartford or Washington, D.C.  
 

To refuse to debate is a dereliction of this primary responsibility. While refusing to participate in a fair and public debate may benefit the candidate and party strategically, it is insulting to the citizens of our town and the democratic process—conjuring excuses not to debate is both undemocratic and un-American.  
 

The Democratic candidates – Trevor Crow, Rachel Khanna, Hector Arzeno, and Steve Meskers – stand ready to participate in this debate hosted by an experienced, well-recognized and non-partisan moderator. They hope the Republican candidates reconsider their decision and act in accordance with the electoral customs and norms of our community and country and put the public’s interest before undemocratic RTC antics.

Letter from the League of Women Voters

For the first time in recent history, LWV Greenwich will not host a debate among local candidates for public office in 2022 because the Greenwich Republican Town Committee (RTC) has directed their candidates not to participate.


Since we send our invitations directly to candidates, not to the political parties, Republican candidates themselves normally agree to participate. This year they’ve ceded that authority to the new RTC leadership team.

This collective response is disappointing.

The RTC’s assertion that the LWV Greenwich is an unfriendly/unfair debate venue for Republicans does not square with the inconvenient fact that Republican candidates for Governor, Secretary of State, US Senate (including Republican candidate from Greenwich, Leora Levy) and the US House have accepted Connecticut League debate invitations in partnership with CT Public this fall.

Candidates who duck nonpartisan election debates to seek political advantage
do not serve the public interest.
No one conducts debates more even-handedly than the League of Women Voters.


• Our Debate Guidelines are Board-approved each election cycle to ensure not only informative discussion for voters, but also effective implementation of our Nonpartisanship Policy.


• A League moderator is experienced and trained and can be a member of any or no party.


• The League, and not the partisan candidates, chooses the Moderator for their skills. (Read LWV Greenwich Non Partisan Policy HERE


• A League Moderator is generally not a Greenwich resident.


• Within a limited and monitored time format, the Moderator facilitates back and forth dialogue among candidates with potentially disparate views.


• Debate attendees supply the questions when they sign up.


• A member of each political party reviews the questions and submits only those that all candidates can answer to the Moderator.


• We proudly distribute a video of our debates on our website and to our extensive mailing list as a public service.


• Our 2021 Candidate Debates are visible HERE. Voters can judge for themselves the fairness and thus the implausibility of RTC resistance.


As our 501(c)(3) status requires that we not favor any political party by holding an “empty chair” debate, we have decided to focus our pre-election energies this year toward Getting Out the Vote (GOTV) and presenting appropriate pre-election programming instead of on a debate.

Those interested in helping us expand voter participation in Greenwich in a nonpartisan way should email us at president@lwvgreenwich.org. We have a role for everyone.

Current Greenwich RTC opposition to participating in League debates and expanding access to in-person voting regrettably conflicts with the League’s century-long tradition of promoting informed citizen participation in our democracy.

Until this year, neither activity was considered partisan in Greenwich.

We will not be deterred by this new opposition, nor will we retreat from our mission. We will continue to put the same energy into informing and engaging Greenwich citizens today as we did to secure the rights of all women to vote in 1920.

 

And, mark your calendar to VOTE on November 8th! Please go to VOTE411.ORG to access all election info including voter registration, election locations, candidate bios, etc. If you will not be in Greenwich on November 8th, please use the link below to apply for an absentee ballot.

Download 2022 Absentee Ballot

Sandy Waters

President, LWV Greenwich