Ryles turns down request for second Park Ridge mayoral debate
Updated: February 25, 2013 6:17AM
PARK RIDGE — Park Ridge mayoral candidate Larry Ryles says he is turning down an offer from Mayor David Schmidt to participate in a debate Schmidt has proposed.
“I just don’t think it would be wise for an opponent to attend a forum hosted by an opponent,” Ryles said.
Schmidt on Jan. 14 invited Ryles via e-mail to take part in “town hall forum” he has proposed at the Park Ridge Senior Center on Thursday, Feb. 7. Schmidt indicated that he and Ryles would each make opening statements and take questions from the audience.
But Ryles said he is declining the invitation and would rather participate in a forum that is hosted by an organization and also features candidates for aldermen, local school boards and the Park Ridge Park Board. He has asked the Chamber of Commerce to consider hosting such an event and stated that he plans to take part in the Park Ridge League of Women Voter’s mayoral debate in March.
“I think it’s best for me to debate in a controlled environment with the League of Women Voters,” Ryles said.
Mary Ann Tate of the League of Women Voters confirmed that the organization is hosting a debate between Ryles and Schmidt at City Hall on March 14 at 7 p.m. Both candidates have agreed to participate, she said.
Ryles questioned why Schmidt is interested in additional debates.
I don’t understand why the mayor thinks he needs to have all these debates when he’s the incumbent,” Ryles said.
Schmidt told the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate on Jan. 17 that he was planning to have his Feb. 7 debate moderated by members of the local press. If Ryles fails to accept his invitation, Schmidt said he will still conduct some type of candidate event.
“It might end up with me addressing the crowd and having a forum for the aldermanic candidates,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt stated that he proposed the town hall forum because he believes he and Ryles “have a lot of ground to cover.”
“He needs to come out and face the public now and not try to minimize exposure,” Schmidt said of his opponent.
Ryles, meanwhile, is hosting his own event on Feb. 2 which he called a “meet the candidate” day for Park Ridge families. It is scheduled to take place in the lobby of the Pickwick Theatre from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.