Glen Cove City councilman and mayoral candidate Anthony Gallo said he wants to debate Mayor Reginald Spinello -- but only after the Sept. 10 primary that could determine the city's next mayor.

Spinello and Gallo are opposing each other in the Republican primary. Spinello is an Independence Party member but won the backing of the Nassau County Republican executive committee, as well as the Independence and Democratic parties.

During Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Gallo accepted Spinello's challenge to a debate. But on Wednesday, Gallo emailed the mayor to propose that the debate take place the week of Sept. 28 -- more than two weeks after the primary.

Spinello released a statement calling that idea "ridiculous" and insisted on a pre-primary debate.

On Friday, Gallo shot back with "Gallo's statement on the mayor's rejection of debate invitation."

Referring to Spinello as "the uncontested Democratic candidate," Gallo said a pre-primary debate should be for members of the same party.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

If Gallo loses the GOP primary, he would not appear on the general-election ballot.

But Ken Brolin, Gallo's campaign manager, said Gallo is confident of victory and could launch a write-in campaign if he loses the Republican primary.

Spinello also criticized Gallo for requiring that both candidates know in advance what topics will be addressed.

David Zatlin, chairman of the Glen Cove Republican Committee and a Spinello supporter, said that if questions are revealed ahead of time, "then it ceases to be a debate, and it becomes a play that's to be rehearsed. A person who's running for office should have a grasp of all the issues."

Brolin said the debate would be more substantive and thoughtful if topics are given in advance.

"We don't want it to be off-the-cuff," he said.