Republican Delaware County Council candidates have thrown down the gauntlet – and the Democrats have accepted – to a series of five debates in the fall.
The GOP slate of Thornbury Supervisor Chairman Jim Raith, special needs specialist Kelly Colvin and non-profit board member Mike Morgan released a schedule of five dates and times in September and October that they'd like to debate their Democratic opponents - attorney Christine Reuther, environmental activist Elaine Paul Schaefer and Upper Darby School Board Member Dr. Monica Taylor.
"We're going to get these debates scheduled because they're important," said Delaware County Republican Chairman Tom McGarrigle said. "Daytime, night time; weekends – we've got it. If the Democrats have something to hide and don't show up, that's on them."
He stressed the enthusiasm that's emerging in this race.
"Never have I seen voters so excited for a county election," McGarrigle said. "Our team earned the most votes in a Republican primary in over a decade, if not ever. It's because we have candidates who have a clear vision for our county."
Delaware County Democratic Chairwoman Colleen Guiney agreed to five debates, but said the locations and terms need to be negotiated between both parties and non-partisan partner organizations.
She offered suggestions to be addressed at the debates, including economic development; public health and safety; human services; environment and quality of life; and government reform.
"After the historic wins for Democrats in 2017 and 2018, it's no surprise that Republicans are now eager to debate us after decades of repeatedly dodging debates," Guiney said. "Our candidates look forward to holding the Republicans accountable for a system that is deeply corrupt and has shown little results for taxpayers."
The Republicans listed dates and times as their preferences for the debate series: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10 at Neumann University in Aston; 10 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 22 at the Clifton Heights municipal building; 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 10 at Villanova University in Radnor; 2 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15 at Maris Grove in Concord; and 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Springfield township building.
They noted that the moderators and the format are yet to be determined.
"We would like five debates," Morgan said. "Our team has great ideas for Delaware County. We can't wait to showcase them."
Colvin added, "Voters should have an opportunity to listen and learn where the candidates stand. Hosting these debates across the county gives them a chance to do just that."
In addition, Raith said, "I'm looking forward to sharing our vision, including our Transparency and Progress Plan. These unprecedented number of debates show we mean business."
The Democrats made clear that they are ready for some verbal sparring.
"We welcome the opportunity to debate our opponents and hold the Republican machine accountable for its decades of corruption and failed leadership," Reuther said. "For far too long, Republican politicians have used government to help themselves, their party and their donors, all at the expense of Delaware County families."
Schaefer added, "We need real answers on why Republican politicians have let our county lag behind on job creation and economic and workforce development while our taxes have gone up.
"We need to reform our government so that it works for all of our families, not just the politically connected," she added.
Reuther said she wanted a non-partisan organization, such as the League of Women Voters, to participate in these debates as a way to ensure access to all viewpoints.
Republican County Council candidates spokesman Cody Bright said they were reaching out to the League and others.
"We look forward to having several third-party groups, including the (League of Women Voters), to help moderate the debates," he said, adding that the Republicans were going to proceed with the five debates, with or without the Democrats.
For the League of Women Voters of Delaware County, they were quick to say they'd participate.
"Absolutely!" Olivia Thorne, president of that chapter, said. "We want to be there ... I do think this is an interesting time. I do think it's a critical one to have at this time and both parties know too well what's at stake."