LWV Greenwich: Bashing a 100-year Old Volunteer Organization Promoting Civil Dialogue between Candidates Should Worry Us All

Letter to the editor from Sandy Waters, President of the League of Women Voters, Greenwich

Last week, the League of Women Voters issued a press release indicating that it would not sponsor a debate between the Republican and Democratic candidates for the election to the 151 st District seat in the State Legislature. Election Day is January 21.

For a debate to take place, BOTH parties must agree to the terms.

On December 16, the League extended to both candidates an offer to hold a debate on January 16. In this case, the Moss campaign agreed immediately, and, by January 1, the Arora campaign had not.

This is their right. It is also the right of the League to decline to host it.

Since then, Arora partisans have accused the League of bias and partisanship, sometimes in a threatening and unpleasant manner. These accusations are generally false and based upon partial or inaccurate information. Rather than go into answering all of that here, I want to raise a larger concern.

While every volunteer organization certainly has room for improvement, the bashing of a 100-year old volunteer organization that tries to promote civil dialogue between candidates for public office should worry us all.

Will polarized politicking mean an end to our tradition of holding debates between candidates?

Who will run debates if the League doesn’t? What volunteer would be willing to put forth the significant effort involved to organize a debate given the intimidation that apparently has become involved?

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, grassroots, political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It welcomes members from all political persuasions and influences public policy through education and advocacy. To best influence what the League does, critics should join us.

We will do our best to schedule debates in the years to come. We hope that the seeds of distrust in the soil of anger do not make debates another casualty of our political climate. Voters who are less informed will not benefit our democracy.

Since a debate is not possible this year, the League has offered an opportunity for both candidates to complete information for a digital Voters Guide in the next week.

Both candidates were asked to answer three questions:

• Connecticut has a serious deficit problem. What measures would you support to eliminate the deficit?

• What specific ideas do you have to address the ever-increasing congestion problem on Connecticut’s roads?

• Connecticut has ranked consistently near the bottom of the CNBC’s America’s Top States for business (35th overall in 2019). Do you agree with this assessment? If not, why not? If yes, what positive steps do you think should be taken to restore confidence in our state?

The League does not edit submissions, but it will disseminate whatever it receives from the candidates, even if it is a nonresponse.

The League urges voters (1) to read the Voters Guide when it becomes available, and (2) to vote on January 21 st .

Sandy Waters
Greenwich League of Women Voters