New Britain Mayoral Debates Begin Saturdayees-headshot-320

4:08 pm, September 24, 2013

NEW BRITAIN — The mayoral race appears on track to include at least one debate followed by either a second debate or a candidates’ forum.

But Mayor Tim O’Brien’s campaign has said it won’t participate in another debate that the Citizens Property Owner’s Association was trying to organize.

O’Brien, a Democrat trying to win his second term, will take part in the debate set for this weekend, his campaign manager, Rick Melita, said. It is cosponsored by the New Britain Area League of Women Voters and the New Britain Herald at Trinity on Main; the 30 candidates for council seats will have a debate from 1 to 2:30 p.m., and O’Brien and Republican challenger Erin Stewart are scheduled to debate at 2:30 p.m.

Melita said O’Brien also will take part in a session hosted by the school paraprofessionals’ union on Oct. 1. It is scheduled for 7 p.m. at New Britain High School. Stewart said she will participate, but has gotten contradictory information about whether it’s a debate or a “meet the candidates” session.

Stewart said she’d favor more opportunities for voters to hear the candidates discuss their plans for New Britain’s future.

“I’m ready to talk about the issues – no matter when or where,” she said.

Stewart said she has been talking with political science students at Central Connecticut State University about the possibility of a debate there. She said campus Republicans and campus Democrats might be willing to jointly sponsor it.

Melita said he had heard nothing about a CCSU session.

“There are just those two – the paraprofessionals and the League of Women Voters,” he said.

The League of Women Voters and the paraprofessionals union typically hold debates in mayoral elections. This year, the Citizens Property Owner’s Association, a fiscally conservative organization, tried to organize one, too, but O’Brien’s campaign has said the schedule couldn’t be accommodated.

This article originally appeared in the Hartford Courant.