POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Two of the three mayoral candidates on the borough’s June 6 GOP primary ballot participated in a forum hosted by a Point Beach businesswoman on Wednesday, but the event was boycotted by the candidate endorsed by the Republican Club.
Councilwoman Arlene Testa, the club’s designee, issued a statement to The Ocean Star saying, “I won’t be bullied into attending a candidates’ forum that was set up by my opponents without my input.”
Ms. Testa is being challenged for the Republican line on the November ballot by former mayor Stephen Reid and Councilman Doug Vitale, both of whom fielded questions during Wednesday’s forum, held at the She Shed in Point Pleasant Beach.
Also participating were Republican council candidates Dave Betten and Kitty Stillufsen and Democrat Larry Schwartz. Republican council candidates Art Gant and Caryn Byrnes were not in attendance.
She Shed owner Patty Camme said she put the forum together so that residents and business owners could raise their concerns and hear what the candidates had to say. No candidates were excluded from the invitation, Ms. Camme said.
She acknowledged, however, that she has been critical of the current borough administration.
“We need to know when you’re faced with difficult questions, how will you respond,” said Ms. Camme. “I have had a number of experiences with the current administration that have been beyond negative…I am not happy with how they have been handling things, they have been harassing and targeting me and I have been vocal about it on Facebook…they are the most unprofessional looking administration I have seen.”
Many of the questions from an audience of 20 persons focused on issues of interest to small businesses in the borough.
The attendees all registered before the event and their names were added to a spinning wheel app used by Ms. Camme to call on individuals who could then pose a single question to a candidate of their choice. The candidate then had three minutes to respond before moving on to the next question. While candidates were not able to reply to the question or answer if not called upon, they were allotted two minutes at the end of the event to speak on any topic.
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