Report by Paula Antolini, August 19, 2019, 10:59PM EDT
After several emails attempts by the Bethel Advocate to Pat Rist requesting an interview or debate went unanswered, we contacted the Bethel Republican Town Committee (BRTC) Chairman Bryan Terzian for a response. We have just received a final answer from Republican candidate for Bethel First Selectman, Pat Rist. Rist indicating she will not be participating in our candidate interview or debate during this campaign.
Rist stated, “At this time, I have to respectfully decline both the interview and debate. My schedule is very full and it will be difficult to carve out the time to participate.” That is all she stated.
On July 18, 2019, the Bethel Republican Caucus unanimously endorsed Pat Rist as GOP candidate for Bethel First Selectwoman.
In Rist’s prepared speech that night she gave a hint of her platform in a prepared statement that she read. Among her points mentioned were, “I want to uncover why we have such voter apathy in Bethel, as other towns are also experiencing. What can the town do to encourage a greater number of registered voters to come out and vote not only just in the presidential election but in all municipal elections as that is where the greatest impact is on all of us?”
Perhaps letting the constituents view Rist answering a few questions might help encourage voters.
What we had planned was an interview similar to the last candidate interviews of First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker and Cynthia McCorkindale, only a shorter interview this time (at the request of one candidate), at choice of date and location at the candidate’s convenience. It appears candidate Pat Rist does not have time in the next 78 days to election so we can all get to know what she represents. She also flatly declined a debate without even knowing the details. (View our email to her at the bottom of this article.)
We received the following answer from First Selectman Knickerbocker on August 12, 2019, that read, “The campaign is not ready to discuss at this time.”
However, after our email to Knickerbocker on August 19, 2019, asking, “Are you declining being interviewed at all or participating in a debate? Or if not, can you give me a time frame for when your campaign (you) will be able to be interviewed? I am trying to set up all interviews. Thanks.”
Knickerbocker replied, “Campaign related requests need to be directed to our campaign manager, David Olson.”
In an additional phone call today from Knickerbocker, we are still discussing the possibility of an interview. He wants to talk it over with his public relations person David Olson.
Candidate Bill Ochs replied immediately on August 7, 2019 and said, “I will be more than happy to be part of the interview and any debates.”
We sent emails similar to the following, to all three candidates. Here is the original email we sent to Pat Rist:
“Bethel Advocate would like to do individual interviews with the three candidates for Bethel First Selectmen, same as we did for Matthew Knickerbocker and Cynthia McCorkindale in previous years.
“These are three different interviews on three different days in three different locations, at the convenience of the candidates, but will hopefully be scheduled asap in the next two weeks.
“We will ask all three candidates the exact same questions, and also ask each candidate to email 2 questions to us that they would like us to ask the other two candidates in their interview (same two questions for each of the other two candidates, not four different questions). We will indicate at the time that the question is from you.
“All questions and answers to all three candidates’ questions will be published at the same time.
“I am writing to you to arrange for an interview and get your official confirmation.
“So far one other candidate agreed and one will likely agree, and we are now asking for your confirmation too.
“Please also let me know if you would will agree to a local live debate (separate event from the interview mentioned above) between the three candidates (details to come) with an audience. Questions will come from the audience and there will be an impartial moderator. Please LMK asap, thanks.”