2015 Election: Parties announce debate schedule

After some back and forth earlier in this election season, the town’s respective political parties have announced an agreed upon slate of debates prior to Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

The candidates for first selectman — incumbent Tim Herbst and challenger Vicki Tesoro — will square off in an economic development debate at the Trumbull Library at 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 22. The League of Women Voters will moderate the first of two selectman debates, which is sponsored by the Bridgeport Regional Business Council.

That same night the candidates for Board of Education will take the stage at Middlebrook Elementary School’s gymnasium at 7 p.m. for a candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

“We strongly encourage all voters and residents of Trumbull to attend as many debates as possible,” said Paul Lavoie, chairman of the Republican Town Committee and a Board of Finance member. “It is important to meet the candidates, learn about their passion to serve our town and learn about their ideas to keep Trumbull on the path to prosperity.”

“We are pleased that we have two opportunities for Vicki Tesoro and Tim to discuss the issues important to Trumbull voters,” said Tom Kelly, chairman of the Democratic Town Committee.  “We encourage everyone to watch these debates, become informed and engaged, and cast your ballots on Nov. 3.”

The second selectman debate, which will have no audience and be played live on Trumbull Community Television, will be held at Trumbull High School at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28.

The Trumbull Times will moderate the second debate.

Republicans still want more

Lavoie was adamant that the Republicans were still agitated in how the debate slate turned out for this year’s election.

“The Herbst campaign originally proposed five first selectman debates and we are disappointed that we have only been able to schedule two,” Lavoie said. “We strongly believe that the voters should have the opportunity to hear the candidates’ positions on financial issues, education, public safety, community and senior issues, and other important topics.

“We are disappointed with the lack of response and cooperation from the Tesoro campaign on scheduling all five debates,” he added.

The finance board member stressed that there still might be time to schedule another, third debate.

“To ensure that the voters are informed, our campaign staff is currently working with the PTSA on scheduling a first selectman debate on education,” he said.

“As First Selectman Tim Herbst stated in his original letter to challenger Mrs. Tesoro, we are willing to debate at any time about the important issues facing Trumbull,” he added. “Our staff has been working with the BRBC, Trumbull Times, League of Women Voters, PTSA, and others to schedule these debates.”

For his part, Kelly said the Democrats would have also liked to have another debate but didn’t say whether another would be scheduled in time for this year’s election.

“We would have liked one more first selectman debate, but we are glad that our Board of Finance candidates and Board of Education candidates will also be able to debate for the benefit of Trumbull voters,” he said.

Ignore the spin

Tesoro said that the arguments surrounding the debate schedule is “just another example of why we need change in Trumbull.”

“Once again Mr. Herbst wants to dictate terms rather than sit and negotiate,” she said. “This type of tactic is why he lost the Magnet school and why we have made little progress with our sewer issues."

She added that debates involve two parties coming to an agreement.

“Unless and until you see a joint announcement please ignore Mr. Herbst’s and Mr. Lavoie’s spin on these debates,” she said.

“We will not be bullied and we will not be dictated to by Mr. Herbst,” Tesoro added. “I look forward to participating in all debates with agreed upon schedules and formats."