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Green criticizes Wendel for not participating in LWV debate

By GREGORY BACON

gbacon@observertoday.com

By the time Election Day arrives, there will have been three debates between the two candidates running for county executive. But none of them will be hosted by the Chautauqua County League of Women Voters.

Norm Green, Democratic county executive candidate, issued a statement criticizing County Executive PJ Wendel for not participating in the League’s debate.

“This will be the first time in county executive history that a candidate for this office has bailed on the League of Women Voters,” said Green. “But he has some explaining to do, and honestly, I don’t think he can defend his record of failed leadership.”

Technically Green’s statement is incorrect. Wendel also declined to participate in the League of Women Voters debate last year, so this is the second year in a row he won’t participate.

Pat Kirell, LWV Meet the Candidates Co-Coordinator, informed Green, “Thank you for your willingness to participate in our League of Women Voters Meet the Candidates forum. … Unfortunately, Mr. Wendel has respectfully declined.”

When asked by this newspaper why he wouldn’t participate, he said it was due to scheduling conflicts. “I could not commit due to time constraints. We will be debating three times prior to the election. I am looking forward to the debates including the annual OBSERVER/Post Journal debate. The information he provided is incorrect,” he said.

Mary Croxton, county LWV president, did confirm that Wendel was only offered one date as an option for the debate. “We didn’t give him a variety of choices,” she said. “He declined because of a prior engagement.”

Along with the OBSERVER and Post-Journal debates, the two candidates are debating at WRFA and WDOE.

Along with Wendel, other Republicans declined to participate in League of Women Voter debates last year. Those included Assemblyman Andy Goodell and U.S. Rep. Tom Reed.

This year, the Chautauqua County League of Women Voters has announced that the organization will hold two virtual Meet the Candidate events. Jamestown City Council candidates were featured on Tuesday and Fredonia Village Trustee candidates today. Both events are being recorded and available on the League of Women Voters website at a later date.

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