Letter to the Editor:
We write in response to the statement on p. 21 of the October 21st Beachcomber by Mr. Paul Busco, President of the Brigantine Republican Club, about the candidates forum sponsored by the Brigantine Taxpayers Association on 10/29/16 in the Community Center, 10 a.m. – noon.
He begins by saying that, “the Club values giving voters the opportunity to ask questions of our local candidates and to allow our candidates to discuss their visions of Brigantine”. Mr. Busco then proceeds to contradict his own words, and also his own positive response when we contacted him initially to propose such a forum. He says, “our Republican candidates will not be attending the forum for several reasons.”
Brigantine Mayor Phil Guenther Poor Performance.
Why? This forum is such an opportunity. But, having denied participation by the Republican candidates, Mr. Busco has chosen, instead of doing his own homework and checking the facts, to spin a deceptive story justifying his decision. Let’s look at his three so-called reasons.
1. Mr. Busco says, “our organization has significant and justifiable doubts as to whether the event would be conducted fairly and impartially”. Such “doubts” were not evident in the 2014 election when the three Republican candidates, Guenther, Sera and Simpson, for the at-large council seats took part in just such a BTA-sponsored forum moderated by the NJ League of Women Voters.
The League did its usual impartial, effective and orderly job. The event was well-attended and successful. There were no complaints by the candidates. Holding such informative, impartial forums is part of our mission. We take it seriously.
2. This reason (“event moderator is an individual from outside of Brigantine, outside of Atlantic County and unfamiliar with the issues at the heart of our local election. Brigantine voters deserve a moderator familiar with the issues affecting our city so that questions focus on those policies specific to our island”) is an amazing display of ignorance of a moderator’s function and of the purpose and history of the League of Women Voters by those who should know better.
The League sends two people, one a timekeeper, who should not be, and are not, involved in local issues. Its purpose is to run a fair, timed, orderly, relevant, civil, informative and effective meeting. It has rules and procedures in order to achieve its purpose and makes sure that all participants are aware of and follow them. The League would have accepted our invitation to moderate this forum. However, once it was determined that only one party would participate, it had to decline based on its policy of impartiality, both actual and as perceived by the public.
3. At no time during our contacts with Mr. Busco and his office was it mentioned that the Republican Club had already asked, “the Brigantine Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a truly non-partisan candidates forum”. In order to buttress its story about not allowing its candidates to face the public scrutiny in an open discussion, the Club is also now making false statements about the Chamber’s involvement in this. Now, to our knowledge, and based on statements on behalf of the Chamber, there is no definite, announced Chamber-sponsored candidates forum.
Sincerely, Anne H. Phillips
President, Brigantine Taxpayers Association