Citing ‘problems caused by confusing instructions,’ League of Women Voters withdraws from Greenport debates
Last week’s election controversy in Greenport Village has prompted the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons, Shelter Island and the North Fork to pull out of hosting the debates, which begin with the first mayoral debate Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
In a statement released Saturday, LWV said the group’s local chapter “has decided not to participate in Greenport’s debates after the problems and irregularities caused by confusing instructions.”
Officials with the local chapter of the LWV did not immediately respond to requests for further comment.
The change in hosts is not expected to have more than a symbolic impact on the debates themselves. The debate moderators will remain in place and LWV’s “techniques and processes will be followed,” according to the League. The moderators, Peggy Lauber, Heather Wolf and Rena Wilhelm, will also coordinate the debate in the absence of the LWV.
At each debate, the candidates will make timed opening and closing statements and answer questions both prepared and submitted by the audience. Limited red cards will be provided to each candidate for short rebuttals if they feel the need.
Last week, seven of the nine candidates running in this year’s mayoral and trustee elections said they were misled by a pair of letters sent by, or at the instruction of, Village Clerk Sylvia Pirillo.
The first letter told candidates their names and parties “shall appear on the ballot,” and noted that the deadline for declining the nomination was Feb. 17.
A second letter, dated. Feb. 22 from Village Attorney Joseph Prokop, informed the seven candidates that they had failed to file a letter of acceptance of the nominations, and as such their names would not be on the ballot.
LETTERS RECEIVED BY THE CANDIDATES LAST WEEK. (COURTESY: KEVIN STUESSI)
At a packed village board meeting last week, Greenport’s board voted 5-0 to correct the issue through a series of unanimous resolutions. All nine candidates are now expected to appear on this year’s ballot for the March 21 vote, pending a ruling from a State Supreme Court judge, which the board petitioned for Monday.
The controversy has left much of the local population angered, at least in part because the only two candidates to properly complete the balloting process initially were the incumbent mayor and an incumbent trustee.
For more than an hour last Thursday night, one resident after another, including the affected candidates and former officials like former village mayor David Nyce, excoriated Village Mayor George Hubbard Jr. and trustees for what they claimed was either incompetence or intentional deceit.
The mayoral debates are scheduled for Feb. 28 and March 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Greenport High School Auditorium at 720 Front Street. The Feb. 28 debate will be livestreamed on the East End Beacon Youtube channel.
The two Trustee debates are scheduled for Saturday, March 4, 1 p.m. in the Holy Trinity Church Meeting Room at 768 Main Street, and Wednesday, March 8, 6:30 p.m. in the Greenport High School Auditorium, 720 Front Street.
The moderators for the trustee debates will be Peggy Lauber, President of North Fork Audubon Society on March 4th and Heather Wolf, former Greenport School Board President, on March 8.
The March 4 debate will be live-streamed on the First Universalist Church of Southold’s (UU) Facebook page and the March 8 will be live-streamed on the East End Beacon YouTube channel.