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Supervisor Debate Falls Through

Both candidates referenced ex-State Sen. Vincent Leibell in their reasoning behind debate plans.

Following a last-minute scheduling change and Southeast Supervisor Michael Rights' exit at Monday's candidate forum, constituents learned there would be no debate between Rights and opponent Tony Hay.

The Eastern Putnam County League of Women Voters hosted the forum, which featured candidates for the Towns of Patterson and Southeast, at the . The schedule originally pitted Hay and Rights against each other at the 7:40 p.m. time slot, the first that would feature any Southeast representatives.

Rights was in attendance at the start of the event. Before the debates commenced, League President Eileen Reilly notified the candidates of last-minute changes to the schedule, which organizers opted for in order to feature "smaller offices" first, she told Patch. The shift pushed the incumbent and the Putnam County legislator to the final act.

Around 9 p.m., after Southeast Town clerk and Town Board hopefuls had already gone head-to-head, Reilly announced that the supervisor debate would not take place. Dozens of folks were still present at that point, and chatter filled the room as Reilly spoke.

“I apologize to all of you,” she said into the microphone as she wrapped up the event, explaining that Rights had left the building. “It’s very disappointing, very unprofessional.”

Moderator Bruce Apar, mayor of PennySaver community and a local blogger, pushed for the switch in scheduling, too. He likened the original lineup to having presidential candidates debate prior to their vice presidential counterparts.

None of the candidates — including Rights, who mingled with a number of attendees before the event started — voiced any disagreement to the changes, according to Reilly.

On Tuesday, Rights spoke with Patch over the phone about his exit. He referenced two other Putnam County hopefuls who also did not attend the forum.

“With [Putnam County executive candidate] MaryEllen O’Dell and [Patterson Town Councilman] Joseph Capasso, I declined to debate a representative of [ex-State Sen. Vincent] Leibell’s machine,” he said.

When asked whether he had initially shown up intending to debate, Rights said, “That’s my statement. Have a nice day,” and hung up.

Moments after Monday’s forums came to a close, Hay said he was disappointed, and wanted “the chance to be known.” League guidelines prohibit debates if fewer than two candidates are present.

“A lot of people don’t know my background, and I wanted to tell them [about it], for the first time, basically, and to counteract all the lies that Mr. Rights, Bock and Yee have been spreading,” he said, flashing an inch-thick manila folder that he planned to reference throughout the debate. It was packed with documents, notes and photos — including one that appeared to be of Rights standing with Leibell.

Around the same time, Robert Bock, who is running for Southeast Town Board and is affiliated with Rights via the Revive Southeast campaign, said he was unsure why the supervisor left the event. He was aware that running mate and current Town Board member Dwight Yee would be unable to attend, but he could not speak for Rights.

“He was supposed to be here,” he said. “What happened, I can’t tell you.”

Jon Bates August 25, 2011 at 04:43 PM
Is there anyone in Southeast paying attention at all who at this point honestly believes that Michael Rights or Dwight Yee is capable of conducting himself in a cooperative, rational, mature or objective manner? These men are petty and contentious individuals who are making a mockery of our town government.
Jon Bates August 25, 2011 at 04:48 PM
for those who aren't already familiar with their constant asinine behavior, please view videos #2-14 here: http://wn.com/mattn625?upload_time=all_time&orderby=relevance these are just a few incidences among hundreds!
Robert Cullen August 25, 2011 at 05:05 PM
Tony Hay never had anything to do with the former senator, and Mike and Dwight know it. Even the chairman of the county board of legislators said at a meeting last week that Tony Hay was never part of "Club Putnam"
Dan August 25, 2011 at 06:54 PM
Jon, I couldn't get the link to work. But, here is another good example of Mr. Rights in action. I just hope the voters of Southeast will watch these meetings and see how a new supervisor is needed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNNsCfvY01Q
david brewster August 26, 2011 at 01:53 AM
you are the same sludge that supported LORRAINE MITTS against Michael Rights 4 years ago. Care to discuss LORRAINE MITTS? I'm glad Rights walked out quite frankly. I hear he took one look at the audience and saw it was the same old ignorant people. He has no responsibility to debate the owner of a beer store.
Jon Bates August 26, 2011 at 02:27 AM
very interesting comment David... was that intended to be an intelligent response?
Peter Carey August 26, 2011 at 03:50 AM
Mr Rights has EVERY responsibility to the taxpayers (Voters) to debate Mr. Hay. If he expects to lead the Town of Southeast he better be prepared to answer questions and learnt to defend his positions in a logical manner.
Gregory Azzaretti August 26, 2011 at 12:41 PM
Hay doesn't own the beer store anymore. You put about as much effort into that comment as Rights and Yee put into their jobs. Congrats.
Peter August 26, 2011 at 12:46 PM
david, Same old ignorant people? You mean the people that live, work and are involved in our community rather than the skels and dregs that Rights has as supporters. He left because he can't hide behind his robocalls and mailers and actually would have had to face the residents and a worthy opponent. Or maybe he saw how ridiculous his Town Clerk running mate looked when she scolded the audience. She's a real breath of fresh air!
Peter August 26, 2011 at 12:49 PM
Watch Supervisor Rights repeatedly lie on camera... http://youtu.be/I7dRRXKl2Ic
Peter September 03, 2011 at 01:09 AM
Check out Rights' $73,000 in campaign donations including money to Leibell. http://www.elections.state.ny.us:8080/plsql_browser/CONTRIBUTORB_NAME?LAST_NAME_IN=rights&NAME_IN=&position_IN=START&date_from=01%2F01%2F1900&date_to=09%2F02%2F2012&AMOUNT_from=1&AMOUNT_to=99999&ORDERBY_IN=N Show me where Hay has ever given money to Leibell.
Bottom Line September 03, 2011 at 01:18 AM
Check this out. Tony Hay and Club Putnam. its hysterical!! Click on the link or copy and paste. Hysterical!! HA..HA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I3-WG3fQDw
Peter September 03, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Three hours to go before another late financial filing. Anybody wanna bet if Rights reports how much he paid for this?
Peter September 03, 2011 at 01:21 AM
Didn't I see the video on your website? www.revivesoutheast.com
Peter September 03, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Imagine that, they didn't file on time. It's amazing how Rights, Yee, Bock & DiSalvo are above the law.
Peter September 03, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Bunch of chicken sh*** hiding behind a hired out of work comedian and fake screen names, but can't come out and debate. What's the matter, afraid that your "accomplshments" actually aren't. I can't wait for the next round of robocalls and mailers filled with lies.
Peter September 03, 2011 at 08:10 PM
Rights gave $73,000 to Leibell and others... http://www.elections.state.ny.us:8080/plsql_browser/CONTRIBUTORB_NAME?LAST_NAME_IN=rights&NAME_IN=&position_IN=START&date_from=01%2F01%2F1900&date_to=09%2F02%2F2012&AMOUNT_from=1&AMOUNT_to=99999&ORDERBY_IN=N
Peter September 05, 2011 at 05:04 PM
More robocalls today! Can't debate, can't talk to people in person, just hides behind robocalls, mailers and videos. What's the matter? Afraid to actually talk to a resident?
bob cullen September 21, 2011 at 12:53 AM
It worked out really well for rights, not debating the owner of a beer store.

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