PRINCETON: GOP council hopefuls decline to participate in League of Women Voters debate

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Republican council candidates Lynn Lu Irving and Kelly DiTosto said they would not participate in a Princeton Council debate run by the League of Women Voters of the Princeton area, a move that meant the forum has been cancelled.
The two women notified a League official of their decision, one that they attributed to the “controlled format” of the event that was to have included Democrat incumbents Lance Liverman and Heather H. Howard.
“Our preferred campaign approach is to engage Princeton voters directly one-on-one or in small groups during which we believe we are better able to learn about and discuss issues of concern,” they wrote to Chrystal Schivell, chairwoman of the LVW voter service. “It is our view, gained from our past experience and that of previous candidates, is that the stylized, controlled format of a forum does not permit the necessary give and take required to educate either the voters or the candidates.”
Ms. Irving said Monday that she did not want to have to answer questions unrelated to local issues.
Mr. Liverman and Ms. Howard had agreed to participate, but League rules forbid a debate with only one party present, Ms. Schivell said.
The last time something like this happened was during the school board race in Princeton last year, when challenger Connie Witter declined to participate, Ms. Schivell said.
Ms. Howard and Mr. Liverman did not return phone calls seeking comment Monday.
Ms. Schivell said she was “sad” given that “voters deserve the opportunity to hear from everybody.”
Ms. Irving and Ms. DiTosto face long odds in trying to defeat the two incumbents, in a Democrat town where Republicans are outnumbered in registered voters.
There are 8,712 Democrats compared to 1,993 Republicans, voter registration data showed. Overall, Princeton has 17,730 registered voters, with unaffiliated voters and voters belonging to other parties filling out the rest.
This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.