The Thurman Town Hall will be the site of a Meet the Candidates Night set for 7 p.m. Oct. 22. The event is to feature a face-off between two candidates for Town Supervisor, in an election campaign that has been contentious. Citizens attending should plan on arriving early, as the hall’s total capacity is limited to 180 people.
The controversy-laden competition for the post of Thurman Town Supervisor has generated a great deal of regional interest this year, and an upcoming face-off between the two candidates — present town chief Evelyn Wood and former supervisor John Haskell — is expected to draw a considerable crowd.
The area chapter of the League of Women Voters is holding a Meet the Candidates Night at 7 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 22 in the Thurman Town Hall. The capacity of the town hall is 180 people, so those planning to attend should arrive early.
Last year, Thurman Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood had received a considerable amount of praise for her handling various issues facing the town, including straightening out town finances and investing many hours in the effort to recover from the devastating, historic 2012 floods that washed out many roads and bridges in town, and to obtain grant funding to rebuild.
But she sparked considerable opposition in late 2012 when she and the town board voted against funding the local ambulance squad after the independent agency’s financial needs increased substantially, and regional emergency officials questioned the local agency’s financial viability. Wood and the town board also voted to discontinue municipal trash collection, based on the concept that local landowners who generated no trash were paying toward other residents’ trash collection and disposal — and that funding it would cause local tax rates to soar.
Retaining both the trash collection and funding for the ambulance corps would have prompted a tax increase of as much as 50 percent.
Many citizens, however, lobbied for taxpayer support of the squad, based on how much volunteer labor and local donations went into building the squad building and supporting the group in the past.
The groundswell of public opposition to these actions prompted Haskell to run again, based on his pledge to renew support for the emergency squad and reinstate trash collection.
By mid-summer however, Haskell, stepped back from such commitments, saying instead he would evaluate the two issues closely.
The two Republicans faced off in the September G.O.P. primary, and Haskell won handily in a 159-78 vote tally.
In November, Wood will be listed on the ballot on the Democratic, Conservative and Independence lines. John Haskell will be listed as the Republican candidate as well as an independent.
Haskell’s ability to assume office, if elected, has not yet been settled, as legal experts are divided on the issue. Haskell was removed from his supervisor post after his 2008 conviction for Defrauding the Government, a felony.
In the Oct. 22 debate, candidates will make statements, as well as respond to written questions submitted by the public to the debate moderator before the session begins, League member Ilana Morgan of Warrensburg said.
“We won’t be allowing any personal attacks,” she said Monday Oct. 14.
The forum will also feature highway superintendent candidates: incumbent Republican Patrick Wood who is challenged by Howard Cook, an independent.
Morgan said she would also be inviting the three candidates for two town board seats: incumbent Charles Bills, challenged by contractor Mike Eddy (Rep., Ind. ) who has voiced support for Haskell, and newcomer Daniel E. Smith (Rep., Ind.). Smith and Eddy both won wide margins over Bills in the September G.O.P primary election.
Haskell offered his thoughts Monday about the upcoming forum.
“I am definitely looking forward to this,” he said.
Wood voiced a similar sentiment.
“This will be a good opportunity for local citizens to submit questions, and obtain answers so they can make a more informed decision over whom to vote for,” she said. “I have a feeling that next Tuesday will be a very, very busy night.”