To all Atlantic Highlands Voters:

We were disappointed to learn that the Republican opponents have suddenly decided to not honor their publicly stated obligation to participate in the upcoming League of Women Voters Candidates Forum.

When the Republican challengers triumphantly said, “Challenge Accepted!” who would have thought they’d cut bait and run from the commitment to share a stage with our candidates and to compete for your vote?

We did.

Creating last minute distractions from the REAL issues that face all of us is a page from today’s Republican playbook. Just yesterday, Lori Annetta, the Republican candidate for State Senate in LD 11, withdrew from their LWV public forum only hours before the event.

The Republican candidates claimed they decided to not participate on, “…advice of legal counsel.” Since when does a good, old fashioned race for town council require advice from lawyers?

The truth is, our opponents have chosen to not participate because they fear that the truth will be exposed: The Republican candidates lack substantive vision — and solutions — for Atlantic Highland’s future. More importantly, they know that you — their neighbors — can smell that fear all the way to the ballot box. There’s no upside for the Republicans to be publicly exposed on a livestream (if you need proof, simply tune into any council meeting to see what the incumbent candidate has accomplished in his three years on council: zero).

An advisor to our opponents, Councilman Steve Boracchia, tried to make a case for not participating based on absurd claims about ‘liberal biases’ of the League of Women Voters and made a baseless argument about relinquishing excessive ‘likeness rights.’ If you’ve ever made a post on Facebook, or stepped into a professional sports arena, you understand how almost all of us have already ceded those rights hundreds of times. To our opponents, we say: When you’re a politician, you wave many rights to your likeness. Get used to it.

Fun fact: In 1980, Jimmy Carter refused to participate in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters against Ronald Reagan… and we know how that race turned out for Jimmy. We might not be big fans of The Gipper, but we still appreciate his willingness to get on a stage with a professional moderator to help voters decide who to give their vote.

Lesley D’Almeida and Brian Dougherty look forward to participating in the October 18th League of Women Voters forum, and we hope you’ll tune in. You can expect Lesley and Brian to talk about the issues that matter deeply to all of us: ensuring we have a fair and predictable property tax assessment program, driving school regionalization on terms that put our students and our taxpayers first, and taking a leading role in combating and adapting to climate change. 

What you won’t see us do is make excuses or insist on changing the rules at the last minute to suit our purposes to deflect the truth about our commitment to the office. Our candidates stand firm behind their promises and we look forward to sharing why Lesley D’Almeida and Brian Dougherty deserve your vote. 


The Atlantic Highlands Democrats

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Regina Hawley-Keelen

Regina Keelen is president of the AH Democratic Club

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