Mayor's meeting debate request 'unhinged'

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To the Editor:

If you’ve glanced at the newspaper or looked at West Milford’s Acting Mayor’s social media pages, you’ve read about his rogue demand for a debate among him and Mayoral candidates Michele Dale and Chris Garcia.

Debates are important aspects of campaigns as they allow candidates to display their vision and experience in front of the people they seek to represent.

At a recent Township of West Milford Council meeting, a resident all-too-familiar to the council, an individual who is a proud Wagner-crony, in an orchestrated manner, brought up the topic of a mayoral debate and the idea of a debate moderator.

It is known to all that Wagner’s September debate challenge to the main-line candidates was devoid of detail and lacked proper political protocol—much like how he governs.

Wagner’s unhinged debate challenge falls somewhere between an elementary school-yard tirade and a page out of the U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, playbook: "You have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it."

Most troubling, Acting Mayor Wagner took it upon himself to speak on behalf of the entire Township Council.

He suggested the council only allow candidate Michele Dale to “speak in public” regarding what he believed to be that evening's business, the proposed mayoral debate.

This deranged request during a council meeting was not only untimely, but was also improper.

Mayor’s, acting or not, do not call for debates from the dais while supposedly doing West Milford’s work.

Acting Mayor Wagner was so out-of-line that the township attorney reprimanded him for inappropriate behavior.

Then, incredibly, Acting Mayor Wagner posted a video of this ill-advised “challenge” to Candidate Michele Dale on his facebook page.

Conveniently, Wagner’s video cuts-out the scolding he received from the township attorney.

Wagner continues to mislead the people of West Milford.

He does it on the campaign trail, on social media, and even from the dais as acting mayor during council meetings.

Claiming that candidate Michele Dale is not open to a debate could not be further from the truth.

She has already indicated that she looks forward to a professionally moderated debate organized by an experienced and neutral sponsor.

Unfortunately, Acting Mayor Wagner has no idea how to arrange a debate, just like he has no idea how to run our township.

This abuse of power has no place in West Milford.

Neither title nor attire give anyone the right to use township business meetings as a forum to attempt to flex their muscle or spew their political agenda. Highlanders have an opportunity to reject this foolishness on Nov. 6.

You, the good citizens of our township, have the opportunity to restore sanity in our community.

Vote for competent leaders who are prepared to serve the people of West Milford Township.

Vote Row A, vote Michele Dale for mayor, and vote for a better West Milford.

Vivienne Erk,

Vice Chair of the Republican Organization

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