WESTFIELD, NJ — A Republican candidate for Town Council who said he couldn’t attend Monday night’s candidates’ debate has been given the opportunity to have a statement read on his behalf, but a spokeswoman for his party said no such statement would be read at the forum.

Republican candidate Richard Bodmer told TAPinto Westfield on Monday he would not be able to attend the debate, and he would send a statement explaining his reasoning in the days following the forum. Bodmer faces Mark Parmelee in the race for the Second Ward council seat.

“I will not be in the debate this evening,” Bodmer said via Facebook message. “I will send you a statement later in the week explaining why.” Bodmer said he was not available to speak by phone and did not respond to further requests for comment Monday morning.

Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Pam Wiaczek, vice chairwoman of campaigns for the Westfield Republican Committee, said Bodmer’s inability to attend is due to his work commitment.

“Our candidate's inability to attend due to a prior work commitment has been known to the moderator and the opposing party since Sept. 20,” Wiaczek said in an email. “Unfortunately, there was no other forum option that was sanctioned by The Leader for a neutrally moderated debate, and we advised them both last week that no proxy statement will be offered.”

Extensive guidelines for the debate published in The Westfield Leader, which is sponsoring the debate, had stated that a “proxy” for Bodmer would be given the opportunity read a statement on his behalf.

In 2015, when then Republican candidate and now Councilman Frank Arena did not show for a debate, fellow Republican candidate JoAnn Neylan responded for Arena. She was eventually told by the moderator to remain on topic.

Horace Corbin, publisher of The Westfield Leader referred questions on the debate to reporter Fred Rossi, a moderator for the forum. Rossi was not available to speak Monday morning. This story will be updated if Rossi returns the message left seeking comment.

Bodmer’s candidate statements posted to TAPinto Westfield about the Westfield Rink and vacant storefronts in the downtown, among others, have been received with less popularity than those of other candidates.

Rupa Motwani, chairwoman of the Westfield Democratic Committee, and Wiaczek both described a complex set of scheduling issues that led to Bodmer’s inability to attend the forum among eight candidates.

Motwani noted the Westfield Republican Committee might be less than eager to stand behind Bodmer.

“It seems to me that they’re trying to distance themselves from Bodmer,” Motwani said.

If you go

The candidates' debate is slated for Monday, Oct. 21, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Municipal Building, 425 East Broad St. Voters go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh