Connellsville mayor, council candidates ready for forum
Connellsville's three Democratic mayoral candidates and two city council candidates seeking nominations for their party, whose names appear on the May 21 ballot, have agreed to attend a candidates forum being sponsored by the Daily Courier (Trib Total Media).
The forum will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. Monday in the auditorium of the Carnegie Free Library, 299 S. Pittsburgh St., Connellsville. Armstrong Cable will film the forum.
Topics for questions to be presented the candidates came from Daily Courier readers.
All five candidates said they welcome the opportunity to answer questions from city residents.
“I think that it's going to be great,” Connellsville Mayor and Democratic candidate Charles Matthews said of the forum. “It will give everyone the opportunity to discuss some of the issues that we have. It's a forum, not a debate, and it will give the public the chance to hear things that I think they need to know.”
Matthews said he is looking forward to the event and the chance to speak about topics and discuss city issues.
“I welcome it. I have nothing to hide,” Matthews said.
Mayoral candidate Democrat Gregory Lincoln said he is pleased with the chance to address concerns and issues voiced by local voters.
“I am looking forward to sharing my ideas with the residents and voters,” Lincoln said. “I want them to be able to meet me and learn more about me personally and professionally. I think they will find that we all share the same concerns about our community.”
Lincoln added that he also welcomes the format that will be presented.
“Forums are an excellent format and should be a regular occurrence, “Lincoln said. “They help showcase the candidates and help the voters become more informed about the issues. Information is the best tool a voter can have to make the right choice.”
Mayoral candidate and Democrat Joshua DeWitt said he, too, is pleased to have this opportunity to speak in front of local voters.
“Forums like this are a very good idea because it gives the voters the opportunity to see how the candidates present themselves with the public present,” DeWitt said, adding that he also looks forward to having the opportunity to address the other candidates. “I am looking forward to meeting with the other candidates again to discuss the issues within the city, and a chance to thoroughly explain myself as to why I want to become the next mayor.”
Candidates for city council will be present at the forum and given the same opportunity to address and answer questions.
“I think that a forum is a good idea,” Democratic candidate and Councilman Tom Karpiak said. “For me as a seated councilman, it will give me the opportunity to go over things that were accomplished and to talk about situations of concern.”
Karpiak said he plans to outline many of the completed projects and ideas of the council and city, which is something he rarely does.
“None of us have ever been ones to toot our own horns,” Karpiak said, “but we have been able to accomplish some amazing things.”
Republican Aaron Zolbrod is seeking a seat on city council. He said a forum is an excellent way for voters to meet their candidates and for candidates to meet their voters.
“As someone who has only lived in the area six years, I am looking forward to people seeing who I am and learning about what I stand for, my plans for getting the city out of the financial crisis, and how I plan on making the city a better place to live going forward,” Zolbrod said. “I also look forward for the residents of Connellsville to get some facts they may not be aware of. The forums are a great idea as they allow voters to hear candidates speak at length, see how they react to tough questions, and get an idea of whose vision they think is best for Connellsville.
“A sign in a yard or along the road tells a voter nothing about where candidates stand on the tough issues that face this city that right now is at a financial crossroads,” he added.
Each candidate will be given an opportunity to present a 3-minute introduction and 2 minutes for a closing. The candidates will be given 1 1⁄2 minutes to answer each question.
Bob Burke, editor at the Valley Independent in Monessen, will be the moderator.
Daily Courier news editor Roxanne Abramowitz said, “Free and open elections are cornerstones of American government, and an informed electorate serves to reinforce those concepts. That said, the Daily Courier wants to help our readers become better informed about the mayoral and city council candidates in Connellsville. We are sponsoring a forum to bring those candidates together to answer questions that have been suggested by city residents about key issues involving their community.
“We invite all city residents to the Carnegie Free Library to learn more about the candidates, some of whom will be representing them for the next four years.”
Monday is the last day for residents to register or change party affiliation to be eligible to vote in the May 21 primary election.
Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.