December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Commissioner candidates disagree on potential slate of debates

Lorain County Commissioner Tom Williams, left, and state Rep. Matt Lundy

Lorain County Commissioner Tom Williams, left, and state Rep. Matt Lundy

ELYRIA — Lorain County Commissioner Tom Williams and state Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, accused each other of dishonesty Friday as they continued to spar over the shape of debates before the November election in which Lundy is trying to unseat the Republican Williams.

“The guy’s a liar,” Williams said of Lundy when asked about a news release Lundy put out Friday announcing five events the pair will attend together.

Williams said that despite repeated attempts, Lundy has not responded to his efforts to discuss the debate proposals Williams put forward. He also said he did not know about the news release before Lundy sent it out.

But Lundy countered that he hasn’t responded to Williams’ efforts to contact him over Facebook because Williams “takes things out of context” in written communications.

“If I have a discussion with Tom, it will have to be face-to-face,” with witnesses, Lundy said.

Williams said it appears Lundy wants to avoid a written record of his comments. He also said Lundy hasn’t taken him up on his offer to talk following weekly commissioners’ meetings, something Lundy said he thinks would be illegal because it would take place on government property.

Williams said having a conversation in a government building wouldn’t be illegal as long as county resources weren’t used for campaign activities.

Lundy also said that Williams’ Facebook messages were “juvenile” in tone, including Williams comment that “as a commissioner I put my big boy pants on and handle the issues that are my responsibility. I suggest you do the same.”

That comment came after Williams had asked Lundy in the messages about why his campaign manager, Sheffield Mayor John Hunter, had called a friend of his to ask to set up a discussion.

Williams said he has become increasingly frustrated with Lundy’s refusal to have a conversation with him. At one point in the Facebook messages, which The Chronicle-Telegram received but never replied to, Williams posted his cell phone number and asked Lundy to call him.

“How do you have a conversation with a guy who, when you try to engage with him, he just ignores it?” Williams said.

Lundy said he sent Williams a certified letter earlier this month in which he put forth a proposed format for a set of debates and asked that they “work together” to have the events moderated by local newspapers and radio stations. He said Williams never responded to a request to provide times and dates for potential debates.

Lundy’s news release Friday stated that two of the debates would be aired on two local radio stations, including WEOL-930 AM, which is owned by the parent company of The Chronicle.

The release also said that Lundy and Williams — who said he never saw the release — would participate in events sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the Coalition for Hispanic/Latino Issues and Progress and the Lorain County Township Association.

Lundy said while his campaign never actually reached out to any newspapers regarding a debate, the League of Women Voters was open to newspaper reporters being involved. Williams has asked The Chronicle to moderate a debate, although the paper has not provided a response yet.

Williams said many of the events Lundy described in his news release aren’t actually debates but rather candidate nights that both were already planning to attend.

“He has done nothing,” he said. “It’s just typical Lundy where he’s using the format that’s been set up for years and trying to take credit for it.”

Williams also said he expects to see Lundy at other events at which multiple candidates usually appear.

Lundy has rejected a proposal from Williams to have organized labor moderate a series of debates in which each candidate would be barred from discussing his opponent and instead discuss their own qualifications and plans.

Lundy dismissed that plan as simply an effort to allow Williams to make a speech, something he isn’t interested in doing. Williams has said his plan would prevent the two candidates from launching attacks on each other.

Lundy also said he’s open to possible additional debates, including one that Williams proposed this week that would see the pair square off in front of veterans.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.