PoliticsThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Candidates for Yorktown Town Board Won’t Debate Before Election

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Yorktown residents won’t get a chance to size up the two candidates in person who are running in a July special election for a vacant seat on the Town Board.

Leaders of the town’s Republican and Democratic committees were tentatively looking at co-hosting a debate between GOP candidate Donna Diana and Democratic nominee Susan Siegel for either July 11 or 12 at Yorktown Stage but it appears the venue is not available either date.

Republicans are pointing to logistical complications but Siegel said she remains eager to debate, if Diana is willing.

Kevin Byrnes, chairman of the town’s Republican Committee, stated in a press release that summer theater camps at Yorktown Stage made it impossible for a candidate forum to be scheduled before the July 23 election.

Once Yorktown Stage became off limits, Byrne said GOP leaders and Diana decided to forgo a debate.

“The Yorktown Stage is where the debates have been held over the past several years and is the best venue to hold the debate,” Diana stated in a press release. “Rather than scramble to find a new venue, I will focus on bringing my message directly to the voters – that I will be an independent voice on the town council while also trying to keep the legacy of my late husband Tom alive.”

But Mark Lieberman, co-chair of the Democratic Committee, stated how as recently as June 18 Byrnes told him he was waiting for Diana to decide between July 11 and 12.

“So, you can imagine my surprise at this last-minute change,” Lieberman said in a press release of the text message he received from Byrnes last Friday.

Siegel, a former supervisor and councilwoman, said she was disappointed Yorktown voters would not have the opportunity to experience a live forum between herself and Diana.

“A live one-on-one exchange is one of the best ways for voters to make up their minds which candidate is most qualified for the job and best represents their interests,” Siegel said in a release.

“The issue, only issue, is that Ms. Diana won’t debate me. First, she said yes, then she changed her mind and backed down. Venue is not the issue,” she stated in a follow-up email.

Diana said she was also disappointed she wouldn’t be able to go toe-to-toe with Siegel.

“As of right now, I have been getting a tremendous response and people are excited to have me on the Town Board,” she stated in an email. “With that being said, I don’t have a record to defend. However, my opponent does have a record she might not be able to defend.”

Former supervisor Thomas Diana died unexpectedly in early January, just a few days after being sworn in to serve his first full two-year term.

Councilman Ed Lachterman was elected in April in a special election to succeed Diana. The winner of the July 23 election will serve the remaining three-and-a-half years of Lachterman’s unexpired council seat.


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