UNION, NJ – The League of Women Voters-sponsored Board of Education debate, scheduled to be held tonight, October 15, will not be televised by the Township’s local channel TV34.
After initially inviting all nine Board of Education candidates to participate in the debate, the LWV subsequently sent a letter to one candidate, Steven Le, repealing the invitation for his participation in the debate. According to the LWV, as an unopposed candidate for a public office, Le may not participate in a League sponsored candidates debate.
A letter sent to the League of Women Voters from BOE candidates Mary Lynn Williams, Tom Layden and Maria Sanagustin requested reconsideration of the League’s decision. The letter referenced the past practice of the League allowing other unopposed candidates’ participation in prior debates.
In a response letter, the LWV upheld their decision to exclude Le from the debate. “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.”
Subsequently, a letter from the Township’s Department of Law, dated October 13, was sent to the League of Women Voters notifying the League that their actions will prevent the Township from airing the debate on TV34. “The Township’s TV34 policy does permit the debate to be aired, provided ‘the forum or debate is structured and organized to equally represent and present all parties or candidates’”. The letter goes on to indicate that by preventing Le from participating in the debate, the Township would be violating their policy by airing it. “While the Township is ready and willing to air the debate on local channel TV34, it can only do so if Mr. Le is permitted to participate in the debate on October 15, 2015.”