Election South Orange

UPDATED: Collum and Davis Ford to Debate Fire Department Merger May 7

Updated: The SO Forward and Sheena for Village President campaigns have settled on the date of May 7 for their debate on the fire department merger issue. Venue and time to be determined.

In response to a request from the Sheena for Village President campaign on April 18, today the SO Forward team of Deborah Davis Ford, Matthew Wonski, Edward Grossi and Stacey Trimble Borden issued a statement on scheduled forums and a potential additional debate.

However, the SO Forward team is proposing only one debate between Davis Ford and Collum when the Collum camp asked for three.

On April 18, Celina Herrero of Sheena Collum for Village President wrote, “With the election less than four weeks away, we’d like to see at least three (3) stand-alone debates between the Village President candidates be organized and completed in addition to the Candidate Forums being hosted for everyone. We would be happy to work with you, the press, community groups, SOMATV, and any interested parties to accomplish the goal of adding at least two more to the calendar. These are great ways we can let the community know about our candidates and I’m happy to work collaboratively with you, your team, and your candidate to create these opportunities.”

However, the SO Forward campaign responded that several community forums and one “candi-dating” event are sufficient, and proposed one debate on the fire department merger issue at an as-yet-to-be determined date.

Election Day is May 14.

See the SO Forward statement here (this announcement was posted to TAP and not sent to Village Green):

We believe that it is of the utmost importance for voters to have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with all of the candidates prior to the election and to learn more about the candidates’ perspectives on the critical issues that have the potential to shape the future of the village.

Community organizations have provided residents with a plethora of opportunities to learn about the candidates and their respective platforms at the following events: the Tuxedo Park Neighborhood Association’s Candidates Forum on April 3, the Academy Heights Neighborhood Association’s Candidates Forum on April 24, the SOMA Action “Voter Ed: South Orange Municipal Election Style” event on April 28, and the League of Women Voters’ Candidates Forum on May 2.

Since there has been recent interest in the proposed shared services agreement between the South Orange and Maplewood fire departments, a single debate on this particular issue may be of interest to the community. For this debate, we have proposed that the debate be held at the Baird Community Center and moderated by the local NAACP of the Oranges and Maplewood, as they are an apolitical 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The South Orange Forward Team looks forward to working with Sheena Collum’s campaign team to find a mutually agreeable time and date for this debate, and we encourage all residents to come out to these events to engage with us and our fellow candidates for village president and village trustee.

In response for a request for comment, Herrero forwarded the following email to Village Green:

Dear Rachel [Ford]:

Thanks for meeting with me today. 

Although we are disappointed that Deborah’s calendar can only accommodate one stand alone debate, I spoke with Sheena and she agreed to the May 7th debate on fire shared services. You have chosen the NAACP as moderators and since you have already been in contact with them, I request that you have the moderator reach out to Sheena ASAP to discuss any format issues. 

If you like, I’m happy to reach out to the Baird to secure the space/time. I’m assuming 7:30 start to accommodate the community. Please let me know if you’d like me to speak with them. 

Please let me know if I’ve missed anything from our discussion. 

And, as I mentioned, if Deborah can find another time in her schedule to have a debate on multiple topics, we are available. The more the community hears directly from the candidates, the better for all. 

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