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OCT 28- NOV 05, 2014

Lewiston Senior Center Candidates Meeting, Wrong Place, Wrong Time

By Anna M. Howard

October 28, 2014

Was the Lewiston Senior Center the right place to stage an arguably partisan “Meet the Candidates” afternoon event?

Whether they wanted to or not, the senior citizens who went to the Town of Lewiston Senior Center on Oct. 21 were subjected to a political event named "Meet the Candidates."

Only Democrats running for Lewiston Town Board attended the daytime meeting, as architect William Conrad, a Republican, had to meet with a client and Independence Party candidate Beth Ceretto, who runs a day care business, could not leave children in her care unattended.

David Sanchez and Keith Ahlas, endorsed Democrats, were present, as well as Republican Town Clerk Donna Garfinkel, and Democrat Johnny Destino and Republican Robert Ortt, who are running for the state senate.

Most of the seniors seem to enjoy social activities and programs that address health and welfare there. But, on that day, instead of focusing on these activities -- funded by Lewiston taxpayers -- the staff at the center instead were using town time and resources to bring partisan politics where they do not belong.

The issue of holding a political event at the senior center was never brought up, discussed, or voted on at any town board meeting; the event was held without consulting councilmen, although Town Supervisor Dennis Brochey attended the affair, so he must have sanctioned it.

But use of a town building for activities other than its designated purpose should require town board approval.

Also oddly, the event was arranged and moderated by Paulette Glascow, a former council member, who has declared her disdain for the Republicans and for two of the candidates that had been invited, but did not attend.

Glascow wrote a letter to the editor of the Lewiston Sentinel, published five days before the event, where she declared herself a “political scientist” and asked voters to support certain candidates and reject others.

I don’t recall ever hearing of a municipality holding such an event in a town owned building during regular hours of operation.

The organizers and its supporters may say they were “only attempting to inform the voters” by holding this event.

But the moderator’s prominently published political opinions suggest partisanship.

After this affair I think the campaign phrase “let’s keep politics out of our Lewiston Town Hall” should be extended to “let’s keep politics out of our Lewiston Senior Center.”

Hopefully this will not set a precedent where any group can hold any event with the blessings of a single board member, which is all a town supervisor is.

Even if a town board gave its approval for such a political function, they should at least have the consideration to make sure that the event is scheduled at a time that is most convenient for all town residents, such as in the evening, and not during the day when many people are working.





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