Candidate engaged in ‘strategy of non-engagement’

Several weeks ago, my integrity was called into question in these pages for saying that a political candidate had refused to attend a Congressional Candidate’s Forum that I had tried to organize.

The reason given was that I was trying to organize a stealth “partisan event.” That would be an event that was billed as “non-partisan” but was really, in fact, partisan.

When I originally approached each candidate, I had buy-in for sponsorship from both a prestigious local service organization, of which I have been a member for more than a decade, and from a group of local citizens who are concerned about educating the public about the divisions being sown in our civic life.

The format of the evening was exactly the same format that was used in 2018 when Wellsboro Rotary sponsored debates among the candidates running at that time, which allowed each candidate equal time for opening statements, five minutes to answer questions from the public presented by the moderator, opportunities for rebuttals and closing statements. This format would have been assiduously adhered to, and it would have allowed each candidate an opportunity to speak their truth.

The strategy of refusing to attend allowed one party a chance to claim that the event was “partisan,” and in a video advised their constituents not to attend.

This is what I am calling the “Strategy of Non-engagement.” In refusing to attend, they could claim that the event was “partisan,” which then forced the hand of the local service organization to back out, thus creating the very partisan event that I am accused of trying to organize.

If they had chosen to attend, it would have been truly non-partisan.

I can only hope that, now that he has been elected, our congressional representative will listen to the concerns of all his constituents.

Caleb Williams