Candidate seeks debate

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NAUGATUCK — One of the three Republican mayor candidates is hoping to have a debate before the nominations.

Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi sent a letter last week to fellow Republican mayor candidates Burgess Alex Olbrys and Seth Bronko asking them to support a debate before the Republican Town Committee nominates a candidate July 22.

“I am sure you would both agree that the best voter is one who is educated and knows the candidates, their background, experience and plans if elected. To that end, I am hoping I can count on you to join me in asking the [Republican Town Committee] to sponsor a candidate debate for the three of us prior to the party’s nominations on July 22,” Rossi said in the letter.

Rossi wrote Town Hall is available for a debate on the following dates: July 8, July 14 and July 16.

Bronko and Olbrys both voiced issues about having a debate before the nominations.
Bronko said he’s ready and willing to debate any time “and see how Tamath defends her record of consistently voting for budget increases. However, calling for a debate now is just an attempt at political posturing.”

He added Republicans should respect the nomination process.

“I’m sure any candidates remaining after that would be willing to debate the issues,” he said. “Although I’m ready to debate, I don’t see how a debate in this stage makes any sense.”

Olbrys said it’s important to respect the process, adding Rossi didn’t discuss the idea with the candidates and town committee before announcing her intention.

“Mrs. Rossi has called for a debate between her teammates, through the media outlets, without giving an opportunity for the [Republican Town Committee] to decide whether or not they would like a debate, as they are the ones who will be nominating a candidate,” Olbrys said.

If there is a primary following the nominations, Olbrys said he would be happy to debate both Rossi and Bronko.

“After nominations, if there is a primary, a debate is welcomed,” he said. “Mrs. Rossi has talked about building a strong RTC, but she is demonstrating that she has no respect for the RTC to decide if they want a debate at this stage.”

Republican Town Committee Chairwoman Kim Kiernan, who also received the letter, said the candidates have the right to debate, but felt that having a debate before the nominations was out of order. She said the state Republican Party has rules that outline the sequence of events, and the next step is for the town committee to nominate candidates on July 22.

“At that time, it is our hope that the party will come together and support the nominee the committee selects,” Kiernan said. “Should the candidates exercise their right for a primary, that would be an appropriate time to host a debate between the candidates.”

Rossi said debating prior to the nominations is a great opportunity.

“I believe this will be a great opportunity not just for us as individual candidates, but also for the party to show the citizens of Naugatuck why electing a Republican is critical to a brighter future for our borough,” Rossi said in the letter.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.