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Mayoral candidate won't take part in Crestwood forum


March 09, 2005 - By MIKE ANTHONY

Executive Editor

Crestwood mayoral candidate Roy Robinson will not participate in a candidate forum that would have been co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Call Newspapers.

Robinson, who is challenging incumbent Mayor Tom Fagan in the April 5 election, told Judith Smart of the League of Women Voters and Call Newspapers General Manager Bill Milligan that he would not participate in a forum.

"I believe I will get my message out to the public before the election without a forum,'' Robinson told the Call.

Fagan told the Call that he was disappointed by Robinson's decision not to participate in a forum.

"If you're running for public office, I think you have a duty to the citizens, the residents, the voters to be able to stand up and defend your views and at least attempt to make the case why you should be elected,'' Fagan said.

Fagan and Robinson are vying for the city's mayoral post in the April 5 election. The seat carries a three-year term.

Since the city's April 2002 mayoral election, the League of Women Voters and Call Newspapers have co-sponsored candidate forums in Crestwood.

Robinson is the first Crestwood candidate to refuse to participate since the forums started, though he did participate in a forum last July for the August mayoral race to fill the unexpired term of former Mayor Jim Robertson.

Robertson resigned in January 2004, saying he planned to focus on family, medical and personal matters that he had been unable to give the attention they needed.

Robinson, Fagan, Ward 1 Alderman Rich-ard LaBore and Peter John Mead took part in the July 20 forum, co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Area Chamber of Commerce and Call Newspapers, that drew roughly 200 residents.

Robinson said he will not participate in a forum with Fagan because of statements made by then-Acting Mayor Richard Breed-ing at the July forum, noting Breeding's comments and an accompanying flier about the "Top Five Myths Regarding the City of Crestwood'' drew a rebuke from the League of Women Voters.

In a July 27 letter sent to all four candidates, Judith Smart of the League of Wo-men Voters wrote, "The acting mayor was given permission by me to welcome the audience as long as he did not endorse any of the candidates.

"Unfortunately his speech and flier were a major disappointment to the league and to a number of attendees as it was much too partisan to be appropriate for our forum. We are sorry for this breach of trust and of our well-known and well-respected non-partisanship,'' Smart wrote.

Though Breeding did not endorse any specific candidate in his remarks, Robinson said Friday that he would not participate in a forum "because of the acts of Fagan supporters in the last election.''

"I'm not going to participate in things that aren't handled in an appropriate manner,'' Robinson said.

Robinson said he also is unhappy because the Call still plans to conduct a forum at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at the Crestwood Community Center in Whitecliff Park.

The Call will be the sole sponsor of the Crestwood forum, which will be moderated by Milligan, as the League of Women Voters, the Lindbergh School District and the Call will co-sponsor a forum for Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Di-rectors candidates that same evening.

The forum for the fire district board candidates will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at Sperreng Middle School, 12111 Tesson Ferry Road.

Because only Fagan plans to attend the Call's Crestwood mayoral forum, Robin-son contends it will be a "rally'' for Fagan and he said he may seek some sort of legal action to prevent the forum from taking place, perhaps an "injunction.''

"There may be some legal ramifications for using taxpayers dollars to support one candidate,'' he said.

Fagan, however, said he has an obligation to respond to residents' questions in a public setting and believes voters will be "outraged'' by Robinson's refusal to participate in a forum.

"I think the voters of Crestwood should be and will be outraged by this and unfortunately, I think it's typical of what's gone on in Crestwood politics recently is people stand on the outside and they want to throw or lob grenades, but they don't have a vision for Crestwood,'' he said.

"They don't have solutions and then when put to the test, they either cannot or will not defend their actions or inactions,'' Fagan added.

Regarding the last forum, Fagan said, "Mr. Robinson accuses some people of doing things that were not agreed upon, but there certainly would not be anyone giving the introduction other than a member from the League of Women Voters. Miss Judith Smart told me that ..''

Breeding's comments did not impact the July forum in any manner, Fagan said.

"He (Breeding) made a couple comments. I think there have been a lot of misconceptions and misperceptions as to what had gone on and I think he just tried to maybe touch upon those. His comments lasted what, a minute, 45 seconds? The debate was two hours of the candidates speaking about the issues,'' he said.

Fagan said he is amazed that presidential candidates can agree to the terms and conditions for a series of debates, yet Robin-son will not participate in a forum.

"There's a lot of jockeying that goes on in the presidential elections when you see and you hear about how many debates they're going to have, the type of debate and what issues are going to be discussed. It's amazing how candidates for the presidency and their teams can arrive at some understanding and some agreement, yet my opponent seems as if he's unwilling to debate because of an introduction, a 45-second introduction that occurred last time, denying our residents access to what his alleged plan is,'' he said.

"I wholeheartedly believe he has an obligation to the voters to stand up and tell us what his plan is and to hide behind this notion that because the introduction was not to his liking last time so he is not going to participate in a forum is simply laughable ... I think the only people who are un-willing to debate are the ones devoid of any ideas or a vision,'' Fagan said.

Though he will not participate in a forum with Fagan, Robinson said that he intends to speak at other functions and believes he can get his message out without a forum.

"I feel very good about what I am standing up for,'' Robinson said.

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