Dathan says prior commitment kept her from Norwalk event
NORWALK, Conn. — District 142 State Representative candidates met Thursday for a half hour debate. Both said they wish the debate had been longer. One blamed the other and asked what she’s afraid of.
District 142 includes parts of Norwalk and New Canaan. Republican candidate Don Mastronardi released a letter hours before debating incumbent Democratic State Rep. Lucy Dathan in a New Canaan League of Women Voters event that featured five State races, each allotted thirty minutes.
Mastronardi’s letter was delivered to NancyOnNorwalk by Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Fred Wilms. It said:
“As someone who is running to be your State Representative, in District 142 representing Norwalk and New Canaan, I believe in transparency and open debate.
“Norwalk makes up almost 95% of District 142 and yet my debate with Lucy Dathan is being held in New Canaan, for only a half hour and with no live audience. In contrast, all other Norwalk Candidates are having full hour debates in front of a live audience.
“To the credit of Mary Oster and the Norwalk League of Women Voters, Mary agreed to set up an additional in person and live audience debate between Lucy and I in Norwalk.
“When Lucy Dathan was asked to participate, she claimed she was ‘unavailable’. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as Lucy Dathan has zero ties to the Norwalk community and only comes to Norwalk to campaign and for photo ops.
“We need leaders who are willing to debate the issues in an open forum and in front of the people they want to represent.
“I am publicly challenging Lucy to an additional debate in Norwalk, at anytime and any place.
“What is Lucy afraid of?”
Dathan said she was happy to clarify the situation. She wrote:
“I actually reached out to the Norwalk League of Women Voters in late September to enquire as to whether there would be a separate debate, and I was told that unfortunately they did not have the resources. I was informed that my debate would be handled by the New Canaan LWV. I also reached out to the West Norwalk Association to ask if they would be hosting a debate forum, as they have in the past, and was told they would not. I proactively made these enquiries early on because I need to get dates into my schedule in advance, as election time is very busy alongside my continuing legislative commitments and service to my constituents.
“Mary Oster, Norwalk LWV Chair of Voter Services, did get in touch with me on 10/15 to ask about my availability for a debate in Norwalk on 10/24, however my time had already been committed by then for that date. It is also the date of the debate for the Norwalk 137th district.
“All of the debates are recorded and available on YouTube indefinitely for anyone to watch, from any town. And while I certainly always appreciate the opportunity to see constituents and a live audience, the fact is that these forums are not structured for audience interaction regardless (all of the questions must be submitted in advance). Having an audience does not change the debate process or protocol at all.
“Mr. Mastronardi and I participated in a candidate forum for the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County, and we are both invited to a Realtor Forum on October 26th, so there are other opportunities for voters to hear from us. We’ve also both participated in online surveys including the LWV 411, Patch, and Ballotpedia, which are available to voters any time. If a voter would like to learn more about our positions, I would encourage them to review these resources to see just how extreme my opponent’s views are.
“Mr. Wilms should know that I’ve actively participated in multiple debates both times he and I challenged the 142nd seat in 2018 and 2020, and I find the aggressive temperament and misleading nature of Mr. Mastronardi’s accusations unfortunate and not indicative of a disposition fit to serve a constituency faithfully and honestly.”
Wilms replied, “Don wishes for the same opportunity in 2022 that happened in 2018 and 2020.”