Refusal to attend forum should concern citizens
March 09, 2005 - Since the League of Women Voters and Call Newspapers began co-sponsoring candidate forums in Crestwood three years ago, no candidate has refused to participate — until now.
Crestwood mayoral candidate Roy Robinson has told both the League of Women Voters and this newspaper that he will not participate in a forum. Robinson is challenging incumbent Tom Fagan in the April 5 election for a three-year term for the city's mayoral post.
One has to question why any candidate would refuse to participate in a forum moderated by the League of Women Voters, an 85-year-old or-ganization whose impartiality is beyond reproach. It's ironic that Mr. Robinson is seeking election as mayor in a city whose track record of openness to public records and access to elected and appointed officials perhaps is the best in the south county area. Given his refusal to participate in a forum, we have to question what kind of access the public and the media would have under a Roy Robinson-led administration.
Mr. Robinson did participate in a mayoral forum last July. But said he will not participate in another debate because of statements made by then-Acting Mayor Richard Breeding at the July forum, noting Mr. Breeding's remarks drew a rebuke from the League of Women Voters.
The League of Women Voters and this newspaper had planned to co-sponsor the forum at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at the Crestwood Com-munity Center. The Call still plans to conduct a mayoral forum at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at the Crestwood Community Center. The Call will be the sole sponsor of the Crest-wood forum, 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 Directors candidates that same evening.
Because only Mr. Fagan plans to attend the Call's Crestwood mayoral forum, Mr. Robinson contends it will be a "rally'' for Mr. Fagan and he said he may seek some sort of legal action to prevent the forum from taking place, perhaps an "injunction.''
It's deplorable enough that Mr. Robinson doesn't want to answer residents' questions at a forum. But if it were up to him, Mr. Fagan wouldn't be allowed to respond to residents' questions. A candidate who refuses to participate in a forum must have something to hide and we question that candidate's fitness for office.