By Mary Spicer
VERNON TOWNSHIP —
About 24 hours after agreeing to participate in a forum of candidates seeking the Republican nomination to the Board of Supervisors, incumbent Supervisor Alden Hills has backed out.
Pointing out that he has held a seat on the board for more than a decade and has run unopposed for most of that time, Hills said, “I’ve proved myself in the township. People know my record. I don’t think I need to debate anyone.”
Reminded that the event is not a debate between candidates and is rather a forum where candidates will be given equal time to answer questions, Hills said, “I just feel better about it if I stay away from it.”
The election May 21 to determine the Republican nominee is key. Because no Democrats are running, the Republican nominee is the likely winning candidate unless a write-in campaign of unprecedented success was launched in the fall.
The Meadville Tribune, organizer of the forum, has decided to continue with the two other candidates, Dick Astor and Denis Alexatos.
“It is very unfortunate that Supervisor Hills is choosing not to participate,” Tribune executive editor Pat Bywater said.
“He certainly does have a long and distinguished record of service to the township and is well-known to the residents,” he said, “however, the issues before the township change over time, and it was our hope to provide a forum through which residents could compare and contrast the candidates’ positions on issues key to the township’s future.”
The free, open-to-the-public forum is set for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the township building. Bywater and Tribune reporter Keith Gushard will serve as moderators. Candidates will be given set periods of time to give opening and closing statements. In between, the candidates will be given set periods of time to answer questions posed by Bywater and Gushard. Written questions from the public will be accepted at the beginning of the event and will be considered for use.
Armstrong cable television will tape the event and play it on Channel 23 on Thursday at 4:30 p.m., Friday at 7:30 p.m., May 18 at 10 p.m., May 19 at 1 and 8 p.m. and May 20 at 7 p.m.