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Article published October 8, 2012
Lyn Weidner Pat Woodings Co-presidents League of Women Voters of Mercer County
Public debates always have been an important part of the American political process. The League of Women voters, a nonpartisan organization, in keeping with its mission of encouraging voting by an informed electorate, has sponsored debates since its beginning. In an effort to bring factual information to the public, the League of Women Voters of Mercer County has sponsored public debates and candidate forums since its inception in 1971. In July, plans were begun for a 3rd Congressional District candidates debate. All three candidates’ campaigns assured us that they would participate. Due to published reports about Congressman Mike Kelly’s refusal to debate in all but Erie County, we again left messages for the campaigns’ representatives. There was no response from Kelly’s campaign, even though he had stated in person on Aug. 20, “I’ll be there.” Steven Porter, who is running as an Independent, stated that he “would be honored to participate,” whether Kelly did or did not. Democrat Missa Eaton’s campaign stated that she would not participate because “it is Mr. Kelly that she is running against.” Unfortunately, due to those circumstances and our nonpartisan policy, we have been forced to cancel the debate, which we had scheduled for Oct. 17. The “debate” in Erie, which is not open to the public, is a controlled, recorded television show for future broadcast on a few select stations and might or might not be edited to fit their respective schedules. It also is unfortunate that the public will not have the opportunity to see the candidates in person and discover their positions. We believe voters have the right to know where the candidates stand on the issues that affect the 3rd Congressional District. It is the responsibility of the candidates to inform the voters of their opinions. Therefore, we suggest that everyone contact each candidate personally to find out what they would propose about issues such as funding for education, health care reform, campaign finance reform, the environment, the economy, and other topics of concern.