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Darien Candidates Split Over Debate Details

DARIEN, Conn. – In a proposed third debate between Darien's candidates for first selectman, the biggest question so far has been whether the debate will even occur. After much argument over time and place, the debate will take place Oct. 27 at 11:30 a.m. at the Darien Library .

The debate was first proposed by Democratic candidate John Lundeen's campaign manager Randy Klein, who invited Republican Jayme Stevenson to a media-moderated debate a couple weeks ago at the Darien Times' weekly coffee at the Sugar Bowl. Stevenson accepted the invitation and suggested the debate take place at the Senior Center and also include Independent Chris Noe.

Last week, journalists from the Daily Darien, the Darien Times and the Darien Patch met at the offices of the Darien Times with Klein, Stevenson and Stevenson's campaign manager Susan Marks. After establishing that the debate would be a roundtable discussion between candidates with questions posed by the journalists, the meeting stalled when no agreement could be reached over the setting.

Stevenson echoed her preference that the debate be held at the Senior Center during the day. Klein said the option was out of the question. He said a debate at the Senior Center during the day would provide a more favorable audience for the Republicans, as the Senior Center is a big part of the proposed Shuffle project.

Klein suggested some alternatives, such as Town Hall, but Stevenson did not want to potentially disrupt town business by holding a debate at Town Hall during the day. Although Stevenson said the Senior Center was not the only place she would consider holding the debate, she felt she was making more compromises than her opponents.

Klein said an evening or afternoon debate at the Senior Center would not be out of the question, but he would have to check with his team. The meeting ended with the political teams agreeing to come up with a compromise by noon Monday.

Over the weekend, Stevenson sent out a statement agreeing to a debate at the Senior Center and reserved a time at 12:30 p.m. Lundeen also sent out a statement, saying that although his team felt the Senor Center was an inappropriate place to hold the debate, he would agree to hold it there. He said the final decision for the time and place should fall to members of the Darien media.

After the teams failed to come to an agreement on their own by the deadline, the Daily Darien, the Darien Times and the Darien Patch decided that a debate should be held Oct. 27 at the library. The proposal was sent to the Democrat and Republican teams, who accepted.

Noe has told the Darien Times that he will make time for whatever date was set. As of this writing, the Darien News will not be participating in the debate.

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