Debate Canceled In Hotly-Contested Mayoral Race

American flag on Hamptons beach

The debate between East Hampton Village Deputy Mayor Barbara Borsack, current Trustee Arthur Graham, and ex-police chief Jerry Larsen has been canceled.

The move comes after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s May 1 announcement that village elections statewide are postponed until September. With the COVID-19 shutdown making a live debate between the candidates impossible, East Hampton Group for Good Government set up a virtual debate between the candidates prior to that, scheduled for May 2 via Zoom. Approximately 100 people had signed up to watch the debate, several of whom had submitted questions for the candidates.

“We’ve made great progress to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but we still don’t know when this pandemic will end,” Cuomo said of his decision. “And we don’t want to undo all the work we’ve already done to flatten the curve.”

All those planning to watch the Zoom event woke up to an email Saturday morning announcing the postponement.

The face-to-face debate between candidates in this hotly-contested race was to reveal and humanize them. Until they actually meet up, between their ad and social media campaigns, the candidates are, for the most part, in complete control of their public image.

The trio are vying for the seat following an almost three-decade tenure of Paul Rickenbach, Jr., who retired at the end of last year.

East Hampton Group for Good Government Chairman Arthur Malman said his organization first learned about the postponement at 4:30 PM Friday, when he received an email from Borsack, who had just gotten off a phone call about the decision.

“We actually had a practice session scheduled for 5:45 PM, only about an hour later with the candidates,” he said. “We will reschedule for the summer, but no one is certain yet if it will be in person or on Zoom.”

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