Asserts opponent ducked a second debate

Philipstown Town Supervisor Richard Shea, a Democrat running for re-election on Nov. 8, has issued a challenge to his Republican opponent, Lee Erickson, to meet him “anytime, anywhere in town” for a one-on-one debate of the issues.

The challenge came in a letter Shea sent to Erickson by registered mail, yesterday, Friday, Oct. 7. Shea’s campaign released the letter to local media as well. “Enough hiding, Lee. The times require leaders who aren’t afraid to go before the public. Will you accept my challenge?” wrote Shea in the remainder of the brief letter. The letter comes a few days after Erickson did not show up for the campaign’s first public forum, sponsored by on Oct. 3 at the Haldane School. The event, which was attended by upwards of 70 people and broadcast live over the internet, can still be seen in its entirety.

Asked in a telephone interview the reason for sending the letter, Shea said: “Because the public deserves to see both candidates discuss the issues. He didn’t come to the first forum even though the questions were provided two weeks in advance. And now he has refused to come to a debate proposed by the League of Women Voters and the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce. We will only be side by side one time in this campaign and that’s the event sponsored by the PCNR,” [the Putnam County News and Recorder newspaper.]

According to PCNR advertisements that debate is scheduled for Oct. 24. Erickson did not respond to an email from requesting comment about Shea’s challenge or about his campaign in general. He has consistently been unresponsive to phone calls and emails seeking his participation in the news website’s coverage of the campaign.

Shea said he accepted the League of Women Voters invitation. And according to Shea campaign manager Kim Conner, that second debate was proposed for Oct. 11 at theGarrisonSchool, but Terry Polhemus, chair of the Philipstown Republican Committee, declined on behalf of Erickson and the entire Republican ticket. Polhemus did not respond to an email asking for a response.

“They [the Republicans) are just running away. The public needs to hear Lee’s answers to questions, they need to hear what in his experience qualifies him to be town supervisor,” said Shea. Eileen Reilly, president of the League of Women Voters of Putnam County confirmed that Polhemus had declined on behalf of all the Republican candidates, including county executive candidate Mary Ellen O’Dell.

Shea said he didn’t care about the format of his one-on-one challenge and said the Republicans could decide the date, the time, the place and the moderator, if one is needed. “One time is not enough; the more public discussion there is, the better democracy works,” he said. “You have to wonder who’s pulling the strings here,” said Shea referring to Erickson’s campaign style and his refusals so far to appear-as Shea put it- “in public venues where he cannot control the environment. A supervisor has to stand up, you have to face tough questions from the public every day when you’re in the job. That’s why it’s important you show you can do it before the election,” said Shea.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Foley is the former managing editor of The Current and a partner in foleymyers communications in Northampton, Massachusetts.