Efforts to schedule a debate between East Side Republican Assembly candidate Greg Camp and Democrat Micah Kellner on the day before their June 5 election have broken down. Which leaves us with the perennial alternative to actual debates: a debate over debates.
The proposed debate was organized at the last minute by the weekly paper Our Town, and was to include several reporters (including me) on a panel.
Camp agreed to appear. Kellner did not, citing a schedule conflict.
Anyway, below is an open letter from Camp challenging Kellner to debate and highlighting what he presents as a substantive difference between the two on education policy.
Dear Mr. Kellner:
I was saddened to learn that you are declining to participate in a debate with me that was planned for Monday evening, June 4th , at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House—the night before the special election for State Assembly on the East Side of Manhattan and Roosevelt Island in which we are the candidates.
As you know, this was the one chance that voters would have had before Tuesday’s election to watch us exchange views in an open forum about important community and state issues.
It would have been the perfect opportunity for us to inform voters, in person, about our differing visions for this office. For example, I would have explained why I would be a strong advocate for continued mayoral control of the New York City school system (accountability is important to me) while you could have explained why you want mayoral control abolished in favor of City Council oversight of the schools (Can you really be suggesting that the 51-member City Council be in charge of city schools?)
As someone who believes in accountability, transparent government, and a free and open exchange of ideas, I agreed to this debate without a moment’s hesitation. I was hoping that you would do the same.
With six days left before the June 5th election, surely there is still time for us to meet in an open debate forum somewhere. What do you say? Wouldn’t voters of the 65th Assembly be well served by at least one public forum before the election?
If you are willing to change your mind and debate, please let me know. I can be reached at 917-###-###.
P. S. If you’d like to debate mayoral control of the schools as a stand-alone topic, I’d be more than willing to do that. We have profoundly different views on this matter, and this clearly is something well worth debating.