County Democrats And Republicans To Hold Debate And Public Candidates Forum
Published: May 21st, 2021
By: Sarah Genter

County Democrats and Republicans to hold debate and public candidates forum County Clerk candidates Bill Smith and Brian Wessels. Smith and Wessels will be debating at the candidate's forum on June 5 in East Park. (Submitted photos)

NORWICH — The Democratic and Republican Committees of Chenango County will be holding a public forum and debate on June 5, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in East Park.

Candidates will be setting up tables in the park to provide one-on-one discussions with constituents. Those wishing to speak with them will have the opportunity to ask questions, air grievances, and give praise.

"Ask them any questions they may have, voice any concerns they may have," said Chenango County Democratic Committee member Karol Kucinski. "Whatever it is they want to complain about or praise about."

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So far, all but three candidates are scheduled to attend. Those who will be available to speak with voters include the two mayoral candidates, four candidates for alderman, one city supervisor candidate, and two county clerk candidates. Joe Angelino and Fred Akshar have also been invited.

Candidates not attending include Linda Kays-Biviano, a current Alderwoman who will be running for Alderman of Ward 4. Candidates for Sheriff and Jim McNeil, current city Supervisor and candidate for Ward 1, 2, and 3 Supervisor, have not yet responded to invitation.

Kucinski has been working with Alderman Matthew Caldwell to organize the forum. Kucinski stated that it is important to him to hold this event so that constituents can meet the people they may be voting for.

"We think what these candidate forums do is they provide a kind of platform where all candidates can present their views to the public," said Kucinski. "And it provides a place where all citizens, or voters, or constituents, or whatever you want to call them, can go and meet the people who they will have a chance to vote for."

During the forum, there will also be a debate between Bill Smith and Brian Wessels, the two candidates for County Clerk, according to Kucinski.

"So the debate we're going to have is between Bill Smith and Brian Wessels. That's the only primary contest that we have. And both have said yes they would debate," Kucinski explained.

The debate is tentatively scheduled for noon the day of the forum.

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Kucinski urges county residents to attend the forum, to learn more about the candidates and their policies.

"This fostering of dialogue between candidates and constituents, it can only be healthy," said Kucinski. "We urge anybody in the county, because the sheriff's office and the clerk are county-wide offices, so anybody in the county can vote for them. So it's not just the city of Norwich."

There is also the possibility of more forums in the future. Kucinski stated he hopes to hold another candidates forum on October 15 or 16, approximately three weeks before the general election on November 2.

"What we want to do is have debates between candidates that have contested elections," said Kucinski.

Election candidates will be in the park on June 5, rain or shine. Kucinski said he will "pray for sunshine."

"This is my way of trying to generate enthusiasm for the kind of political life of the community in general," said Kucinski.