Republican Town Committee Chairman Jeff Guttman says his party is "outraged" over what he says is "a direct violation" of Edith Wheeler Memorial Library's meeting room reservation policy by town Democrats planning a meet and greet for voters on Saturday because it is for the benefit of one political party, which he says constitutes a rally.
Meanwhile, Democratic Town Committee Chairman Nick Kapoor claims Guttman never responded to his offers of a debate for all candidates followed by a small reception where both parties' candidates could talk with voters.
The sniping between Republicans and Democrats has gotten so intense that Guttman also complained about the Democratic Party's first selectman candidate, Daniel Hunsberger, and tax collector candidate, Jerry Stevens, campaigning at last weekend's Trunk or Treat, which was held on school grounds.
First Selectman Steve Vavrek, a Republican, was also at the event, and while there told a reporter that he was not giving out campaign pins like his opponent.
In a press release sent out Wednesday, Guttman said he noticed Hunsberger's campaign sticker in the Connecticut Post inviting the public to a Meet & Greet with the Democratic Party slate from 2 to 4 p.m. this Saturday.
"Monroe Republicans were outraged by the Library allowing the
meeting to occur as it is in direct violation of the Library’s stated meeting
room reservation policy," Guttman said. "While Monroe
Republicans encourage the use of the Library meeting room for civic purposes — such as bi-partisan events or town meetings, the EWML policy specifically
states 'The library’s meeting rooms may
not be used for partisan political rallies; commercial or sales programs; or
private social events such as birthday and anniversary parties, showers,
receptions, reunions, etc.'
"A gathering of just one political party for an individual’s political gain constitutes a rally. The Monroe Republican Town Committee confirmed with First Selectman Steve Vavrek that he had not been invited to the event."
Kapoor said, "Through email exchange and personal contact I urged Mr. Guttman to collaborate on a debate and he did not respond so the Democrats moved ahead."
Guttman, who is also a member of the Board of Education, went on to say, "It is regrettable that the Democrats are repeatedly doing things in this campaign that abuse the public trust. Tax payer dollars from all of Monroe’s citizens support that library and trying to circumvent the stated policy for their political gain is shameful. Especially when earlier that weekend Democrat candidates were actively campaigning at a Trick or Trunk event held at Masuk High School. Everyone knows that active campaigning on school grounds is forbidden."
The press release also claims that Vavrek "had received several phone calls at home on Sunday night from people complaining about the violation of the library’s policies and would be reaching out to the library’s director as soon as possible."
Kapoor accused Republicans of trying to stifle discussion.
"I would have liked to have had the First Selectman Chamber debate — which did occur, a League of Women Voters debate — which the First Selectman could not fit into his schedule — and a meet and greet between all of the candidates. My emails from Sept. 4 and Sept. 20 show that."Kapoor's statement included copies of what he said were the emails:
Even though Steve did not agree to a RTC/DTC debate for First Selectman. Would you have any interest in RTC/DTC cosponsored Tax Collector, Town Council or Board of Ed debates?
Was wondering if you had any further thoughts on an Underticket Q&A. Perhaps October 20 around 1 or 2 pm in the Council Chambers. We can put all (or anyone who is willing to participate) from our underticket in front of the crowd and just let them ask questions of the candidates.
The DTC would co-sponsor a small reception with the RTC after the event. It is getting pretty late to plan this, so let me know if you'd like to do this. "
Kapoor claims Guttman never responded.
"The election is five days away," he said. "If Mr. Guttman really wants to talk about wasting taxpayers’ money why is he not outraged about a million dollars of taxpayers’ hard earned money being spent on expensive outside legal counsel that the First Selectman still to this date has not justified or explained. When you can’t justify your record from the past four years all you can do is avoid debates, stifle discussion, play politics, and attempt to keep the opposing party from meeting the public and answering their questions.
"Mr. Vavrek has refused to debate. Mr. Hunsberger will be available to personally talk to voters at the Library from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday as will the entire Democratic slate. We hope that all the residents will come and visit and ask any questions they may have."