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Wilkinson to Ditch a Candidate Debate

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson says he is already doing four others; says 'no thank you' to Village Preservation Society.

A slew of debates and meet-and-greets with East Hampton's candidates are slated ahead of the November election, but there's one that will be simply a Q & A with the Democratic candidate.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson has declined a debate with the Village Preservation Society of East Hampton, which scheduled the debate for mid-October.

Wilkinson said on Monday that he is already taking place in four other debates, ones with the League of Women Voters, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, which is scheduled at the on Oct. 23 at 1 p.m., News 12 and Newsday.

"I hope the group of people of East Hampton Village will understand," he said, adding that "they can analyze, with a microscope if necessary, my record."

Kathy Cunningham, the society's executive director, said Wilkinson's decline was disappointing.She said that "the village has a separate and distinct cohort with specific issues that village residents face and others do not."

She said he "had a roundly successful performance" before the group before; Wilkinson had appeared before the group's membership during the last election and was a guest speaker in 2010.

Instead, Zachary Cohen of Springs, will have the floor at the groups meeting on Oct. 15 at 4 p.m.

Wilkinson and Cohen will debate during the debate at on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. The debate is also for candidates running for a seat on the Suffolk County Legislature and town board.

Past league president Carol Mellor will moderate that debate with candidates making timed opening and closing statements and answering questions from a panel of local newspaper editors and the league.

The debate will start with the two county candidates, Cornelius Kelly, who is running on the Republican ticket, and incumbent Jay Schneiderman, who is running on the Independence and Democratic party lines.

Wilkinson and Cohen will follow. Also taking part will be the six candidates for two seats on the East Hampton Town Board; Independence candidates and Bill Mott, Republican candidates Richard Haeg and Steven Gaines and Democratic candidates Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc.

Candidates for other offices have been invited to introduce themselves by name and the office for which they are running. LTV will air the debate at a later date.

The Village Preservation Society will also host a town board candidates' debate live on LTV on Oct. 27 at 4:30 p.m. Cunningham said that Haeg has declined the invitation, but that Gaines will take part. Haeg was not immediately available for comment.

Meet-and-greets with the candidates are also scheduled around town. For instance, the has invited the candidates to its meeting at on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.

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