JAMESTOWN – About 3800 registered Republicans will be eligible to vote in this year’s June 25 Republican Primary for mayor, featuring current Jamestown City Councilman (at Large) Andrew Liuzzo and current Chautauqua County County Legislator (District 11) David Wilfong.
But those who are planning to vote will do so without having the opportunity to hear the two candidates square off to discuss and debate the issues. That’s because Liuzzo declined any invites that involved a forum where both he and Wilfong would be present.
In early April WRFA invited both candidates to participate in debate that would be hosted and broadcast by our radio station prior to June 25. Wilfong accepted the invite but Liuzzo declined, saying he would rather focus on running his campaign.
In an interview last week with WRFA, Liuzzo offered further details on why he didn’t want to debate Wilfong before June 25.
“I’m very accessible to the public. I’m a servant and I see myself as a servant. In order for me to sit down and have a debate with a primary opponent is premature. I’d be willing to debate the candidate once I become an [endorsed] candidate. I will share my views as opposed to the opposing candidates views. But in a primary, our records speak to what they speak for,” Liuzzo said when asked about not doing a debate.
WRFA also spoke with Wilfong about the lack of a debate prior to the primary. He didn’t mix words in offering his reaction.
“As far as Andy not wanting to debate, he’s either afraid or he’s a little arrogant. I think it’s a little bit of both,” Wilfong said. “I can’t see what it would hurt for us to sit down in front of a group of people and kind of discuss the issues. I’ve had to do it before as a county legislator. I actually think it’s one of my strong points. But he’ll have to answer to the voters on that. I’m not going to try and put words in his mouth or make up answers for him.”
WRFA has also learned at least one other local media outlet – WNY News Now – also invited the two candidates to participate in a debate, but Liuzzo respectfully declined that invitation as well.
As indicated earlier, Liuzzo has said that he would be willing to debate any and all candidates for mayor prior to the November General Election. Jamestown attorney Eddie Sundquist is the endorsed candidate for the Democratic, Independence, and Working Families parties. Wilfong is the endorsed candidate for the Conservative Party. So far there is not a candidate for the Libertarian Party, which has until the end of August before it has to name a candidate.
It’s not uncommon for two candidates vying for the same party endorsement to square off in a debate or similar “meet the candidates” forum prior to a primary. We see it on the national level when it comes to the office of president, as well as for Congress – as we witnessed in 2018 when five different Democratic candidates were vying for the party’s endorsement to run against Congressman Tom Reed in the 23rd Congressional District.
And the Chautauqua County League of Women votes will be hosting the two Republican candidates for state senate during a forum Monday night, June 16 at Dunkirk City Hall. Those candidates are Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello and Allegany County Legislature Chairman Curtis Crandall. Both men will also be interviewed on WRFA for this week’s Community Matters program.