SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Three forums are coming up later this month in which the candidates running for seats on the board of trustees will get to speak out about pressing issues in town.
But will there also be a debate between current Village President Sheena Collum, who is seeking re-election, and Village Trustee Deborah Davis Ford who is running against Collum for the presidency?
Collum wants to challenge Davis-Ford in at least three debates before the election, her campaign manager Celina Herrero announced on Wednesday.
At least one of the debates would be in response to campaign literature that Davis-Ford sent to South Orange residents last week, bashing Collum for not being transparent with the public about her talks with Maplewood officials to merge the South Orange and Maplewood Fire Departments, according to Herrero.
"Municipal officials traditionally have such a low voter turnout that we believe it's incumbent upon all candidates to make themselves available to the larger community in differentiating their experience, accomplishments during their respective terms in office, and views on how to move our village forward," said Herrero.
Rachel Ford, campaign manager for Deborah Davis Ford, said she will be meeting with Collum’s campaign manager Celina Herrero to discuss having a village presidential debate.
“I look forward to discussing the request in person with Sheena Collum’s campaign manager,” Ford said.
Ford said a date hasn't been set as of yet for the debate.
FIRE DEPARTMENTS:Maplewood Will Oversee Merged Fire Departments with South Orange
The issue about merging the fire departments has left residents wondering what will happen to the South Orange Fire Department in the future. Local officials are concerned that South Orange will lose jurisdiction over its department, which they fear could result in layoffs and having fewer South Orange firefighters in the department.
South Orange has a civil service fire department, which means that it is not controlled by municipal government. Maplewood does not have a civil service fire department.
Manitou, Inc. completed a report in 2017 about the possible merger, which would keep all three firehouses in South Orange and Maplewood open, but could reduce staffing to save money.