UNION, NJ – The Union Area League of WomenVoters (UALWV) will be hosting a debate for Township Board of Education candidates on October 15. All of the nine candidates received a letter of invite to the debate. Subsequently, the UALWV sent a letter to Steven Le repealing the invitation for him to participate in the debate. Per the UALWV, as an unopposed candidate for a public office, Le may not participate in a League sponsored candidates debate.
A letter to the UALWV was sent requesting the League reverse their decision and allow Le to participate in the debate. The letter, sent from Board of Education candidates Mary Lynn Williams, Tom Layden and Maria Sanagustin, indicated “four seats are up this year on the nine person school board, or 44 percent of the entire board. Surely, the public is better served understanding the views of all the candidates before making decisions”. The letter went on to reference the past practice of the League allowing other unopposed candidates to participate in prior debates, using news articles as their source. In 2011, three candidates ran unopposed for three seats on the Board of Education and they participated in the debate. In 2012, another candidate was unopposed for a two-year term and was invited by the League to participate in the debate.
In a response letter dated October 1, the UALWV upheld their decision to exclude Le from the debate. “The ballot for the Township of Union BOE lists eight candidates vying for three 3-year term positions on the board. There is need for a debate among those eight. The voters need to hear each of their views to make an informed choice for three from among them. As there is only one candidate, Mr. Le listed for the one 1-year unexpired term position, there is no opponent, no contest, no one to debate, and no choice to be made by the voter. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to include him unchallenged in a debate.”
It is unclear whether candidates Williams, Layden, Sanagustin and Le will participate in the debate scheduled for October 15.