Galloway Political Parties Face Early Stumbling Block in Setting up Possible Debate
Democratic challenger Jim McElwee proposed the idea of a debate to Councilman John Mooney, who maintains the party chairs need to handle all the logistics.
With the national debate season in full swing, the discussion has begun concerning a debate between Galloway Township Republican Councilman John Mooney and his Democratic challenger in November’s election Jim McElwee, but the sides seem to have reached a stumbling block early on.
McElwee contacted Mooney with a proposal to hold a debate at the Atlantic County Library System’s Galloway Branch with Galloway Patch serving as moderator.
In his response, dated Oct. 9 and provided to Galloway Patch by the Galloway Democratic Party, Mooney points out that “traditional protocol is for the opposing municipal chairperson to contact the incumbent municipal chairperson to reach a mutual understanding” on date, time, place, selection of moderator and the format.
In this case, the opposing chairperson is Democratic Club Chair Michael Suleiman, and the incumbent chairperson is Republican League Chair Terry Lucarelli.
“Further, I humbly remind you that I was the first incumbent in the history of Galloway Township Council subjected to public scrutiny from both the Township Council and the residents of the community,” Mooney continued, referring to the process by which he and Robert Chester were interrogated on July 12.
Mooney and Chester were two of the three nominees the Republican League proposed to council following the resignation of Councilman Dennis Kleiner in June.
“The idea that a debate cannot be worked out by the two candidates is silly,” Suleiman said via email. “We already have a location and already have a moderator; … all that needs to be agreed on is a date. This is nothing more than a stall tactic. I have no problem reaching out to anyone in the Republican Club about setting up a date, but if Councilman Mooney refuses to debate, then there isn't much point.”
Lucarelli denied that Mooney is refusing to debate McElwee.
“He did tell Mr. McElwee that there is a protocol that is followed,” Lucarelli said via email. “I have not heard from anyone so the ball is in their court. We need to agree on venue, rules and a nonpartisan moderator.”
There has not been a debate between Galloway’s political parties in about five years. Last year, the sides couldn’t agree on a format, when the Republicans said they wanted a more formal debate and the Democrats were pushing the idea of an informal meet and greet session with voters.
There were six candidates running for three seats last year. McElwee was one of the Democratic candidates.
No election was scheduled for this year, until Kleiner resigned on June 25. Mooney was nominated to fill his seat in August, and the special election in November will determine who fills the rest of the term, which runs through the end of 2013. The seat will be up for election again next November.