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No debates for 76th House seat

It appears there will be no public debates between the two candidates for the 76th House District seat ahead of the Nov. 6 General Election.

Despite requests to participate in three forums, Republican Stephanie Borowicz has declined to respond to any of them.

The Express community newspaper’s attempt to set up a forum between Borowicz and Democratic challenger Mike Hanna Jr. was met with no response from the Republican candidate.

The Christian Coalition forum has been canceled, so far as The Express has ascertained.

And, the Centre County League of Women Voters said its request to Borowicz to participate in a forum also went unanswered.

Moreover, C-Net, the public access TV channel for Centre County, interviews candidates for airing.

Cynthia L. Hahn, C-NET executive director, told The Express that Borowicz did not schedule an interview with the station, but Hanna has.

Hanna also will participate in LWV’s forum.

“Anyone who is a serious candidate should participate in forums,” said Susan Werner, League of Women Voters president.

“We invited candidates in late August. After several attempts to contact Stephanie by email and phone, we’ve never heard from her. We sent a third email, still no response. We got a phone number and left her a message. Again, no response so we’ve given up on her. We’re just saying she is not participating. There will be an empty chair,” she said.

The LWV forum for the 76th District is set for Oct. 22.

On Aug. 24, The Express emailed both Borowicz and Hanna seeking their participation in a forum the evening of Oct. 23 in downtown Lock Haven.

The offer was that a panel of local media representatives (newspaper and radio) would ask questions, guided by a non-media moderator.

Each candidate also was offered to appoint someone to the panel, so long as they were not related to the candidate or any county party official, were not campaign managers, or were not a party committee president or officer.

Both candidates were given a Sept. 7 deadline to respond.

Hanna responded to the email within three days and agreed to participate.

Borowicz did not respond.

The newspaper reached out to Clinton County Republican party officials to contact the candidate, but still no response.

“We’re disappointed Mrs. Borowicz has chosen to ignore our request,” said Bob Rolley, publisher of The Express. “We simply want to serve our readers who live in the 76th District by providing them with information about both candidates.” (See “No response from GOP candidate is disappointing,” Page A4).

Contacted about any other forums, Hanna told The Express he was asked to participate in the Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School debate in Centre County from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, and he has agreed.

As for the other forums, the Oct. 22 event by the LWV is for state House and Senate candidates, and the Centre Daily Times newspaper will host a debate for U.S. Congressional district candidates. The LWV forum will start at 7 p.m. in the State College Borough Council chambers and the CDT forum will follow at 8:30 p.m.

However, the CDT reports that “two major players will be missing from the congressional debate: Republican incumbents Glenn “GT” Thompson of the 15th District and Tom Marino of the 12th District. Democratic candidates vying for congressional seats in the 15th and 12th District, Susan Boser and Marc Friedenberg, respectively, are the only attendees for the CDT’s forum.”

Werner told the CDT that U.S. Election Commission guidelines require that candidates from both major parties must be present for federal office candidate forums, so the Centre County LWV could not host the congressional race debate without risking its non-profit status, and requested the CDT host it instead.

Candidates from the 171st, 76th and 81st state representative districts and the 34th state Senate district will attend the LWV forum, Werner said.

That includes state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, and Democratic challenger Erin McCracken in the 171st; Hanna in the 76th; state Rep. Richard Irvin, R-Spruce Creek, Democrat Richard Rogers and Libertarian Joseph Soloski in the 81st; and state Sen. Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, and Democratic challenger Ezra Nanes in the 34th.

Borowicz, meanwhile, took to her social media page late this week and called the media and sponsoring organizations of the forums “biased.”

She said she would hold her own town halls, but she didn’t say where or when.

The 76th District consists of all of Clinton County; the townships of of Benner, Boggs, Burnside, Curtin, Haines, Howard, Liberty, Marion, Miles, Snow Shoe and Union and the boroughs of Howard, Milesburg, Snow Shoe and Unionville in Centre County. Its total population is estimated at just under 63,400.

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