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Why the Secrecy in Upcoming Local Election Candidates’ Forums by the Central PTO and Bethel Education Foundation?

Report by Paula Antolini, October 5, 2019, 7:30AM EDT

Recently a notice was posted online on one of the Bethel Public Schools’ website about an upcoming Candidate Forum, to be held by the Central PTO and Bethel Education Foundation, that has now been removed.

We contacted Jill Kurtz, Central PTO President, and asked for confirmation of the event or events, and how the questions to candidates would be handled. We had information that indicated the candidates would receive questions ahead of time, but it was unclear whether or not the audience would be allowed to ask questions, and how questions were selected etc. We also asked if this was a free event open to the public and whether or not reservations were required, and if separate events would be held for different groups of candidates, such as those running for First Selectman or Board of Education and others, or if it is only one event. Simple questions.

Jill Kurtz would only say this:

“The Central PTO and Bethel Education Foundation will be hosting a Candidate Forum on 10/30/19 7-9pm at the BHS Auditorium. A formal release will be provided once the invited candidates have been given an opportunity to confirm their participation.”

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We JUST saw a notice online today on Facebook that reads:

Please join the Bethel Central PTO and Bethel Education Foundation for a Candidate Forum. Candidates for First Selectman and Board of Education will be answering pre-selected education-based questions provided by the community.

This free event is open to the public and is intended to be a useful resource for Bethel residents leading up to our elections on November 5th.

For inquiries or question suggestions, please email bethelcentralpto@gmail.com

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We understand their having to get confirmation from the candidates, but why must all other details remain a secret? Good question!

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UPDATE October 5, 2019, 9:02AM:


WE have emailed the following questions to Jill Kurtz this morning at 8:58 a.m.:

1) Did all three candidates running for First Selectman confirm their attendance?

2) Does this event include only the three First Selectman Candidates? Or does it include other candidates too?

3) Are there any other candidate forums planned for other candidates?  if so, what dates./times/locations and which candidates are confirmed?

4) How will  the question and answer forum will work? Are candidates given the questions ahead of time? 

5) Are these the only questions they will be asked? … or does the audience get a chance to ask questions?

6) Who created the questions and how is it decided which questions will be presented to candidates?

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UPDATE October 5, 2019, 9:17AM:

We see a notice on the Bethel Central PTO facebook page (so why isn’t Kurtz getting back to us?)>>>

“The Central PTO and Bethel Education Foundation will be hosting a Candidate Forum at the BHS Auditorium on Wednesday October 30 7-9pm. Candidates for First Selectman and Board of Education will be given potential questions in advance of the event. We are seeking parent input for the education-based topics and questions. Please email bethelcentralpto@gmail.com with your suggestions. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you there!”

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Our question now is, WHY do candidates have to be supplied the questions ahead of time? Why is this necessary? Do you want to vote for any candidate that cannot field questions from the public without prior knowledge of questions? GOOD QUESTION!

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UPDATE October 5, 2019:

Candidates Bill Ochs and Pat Rist have confirmed their participation in the Candidate Form to be held on October 30th. We have messaged First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker for his confirmation.

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UPDATE October 5, 2019, 9:42PM:

We received a response from First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker, he has confirmed he will be attending the Candidate Forum.

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