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County Clerk Debate A No-go

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CANTON - A League of Women Voters-sponsored debate between St. Lawrence County clerk candidates Gavin M. Regan and Mary Lou Rupp will not take place because time ran out to schedule it.
Mr. Regan was enthusiastic about the idea, Mrs. Rupp less so, but turned the matter over to her scheduler, said Susan M. Cypert, chairwoman of the county chapter of the league. Arranging a time, date and place proved elusive.
"Based on the lateness of timing, it kind of just fell apart," Ms. Cypert said.
Mr. Regan, a Democrat appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to the post, said he would have welcomed the chance to debate county clerk issues.
"I would love to do a debate," he said. "She decided she didn't want to."
Mrs. Rupp, who was acting clerk before Mr. Regan's appointment, said she could not pick a time because of other political commitments and her daughter's wedding. She also felt a dual appearance with Mr. Regan at the Ranger School in Wanakena fulfilled the need for a one-on-one with her opponent.
"I was disappointed there did not seem to be press there to cover it," she said. "I thought it was going to be taped or televised."
The event Oct. 13 was not a debate in the traditional sense, said Christopher L. Westbrook, director of the Ranger School, who helped set up the session. The evening featured others running for political office as well.
"We call it 'meet the candidates night.' It's really not a debate," he said. "It was basically questions from the audience. They did argue back and forth a little."
Debates are hard to set up so that as many members of the public as want to can attend, Ms. Cypert said.
Voters can get a gauge of the candidates, along with Democrat Cecily L. Morris and Republican Andrew S. Moses who are running for Family Court judge, from videos that are on youtube.
"Conversations with candidates is the approach we've been using," Ms. Cypert said. "The four county candidates were interviewed. We're trying to get information out to voters, both sides."
The interviews are a partnership among the Clarkson University Center for Excellence, the league and the county chapter of American Association of University Women. They are among a series of tapes on regional issues posted by Clarkson communications specialist Daniel E. Dullea and his students under the title North Country Matters.
Further sessions are being set up for year-round attention to issues under a developing series called Common Ground, Ms. Cypert said.

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