Mayor Reginald Spinello has set Sept. 3 as the date for a primary-election debate with challenger Anthony Gallo -- but Gallo, a city councilman, says he won't be there.
On July 28, Spinello proposed a debate, but Gallo said he would accept only if it is held after the Sept. 10 primary. The two candidates will face each other in the Republican primary, but Spinello is an Independence Party member, and Gallo said a primary debate should be between members of the same party. He said he would agree to debate before the primary if Spinello switches his registration to the GOP, something the mayor has so far not indicated he would do.
In the latest email Spinello sent to Gallo, on Aug. 7, the mayor reminded Gallo that the Republican Party endorsed him for re-election. Spinello also is backed by the Independence, Democratic and Conservative parties.
Spinello invited Gallo to debate at 7 p.m. Sept. 3 at the Glen Cove Mansion. The mayor said he would arrange for a neutral moderator, who would work with the two candidates on a format. Spinello said he would appear even if Gallo doesn't.
In a statement titled "Gallo Looking Forward to Mayoral Monologue," Gallo on Saturday wrote that "it's not clear whether his solo performance would take the form of a one-man Independence Party forum or a simple news conference, but I wish the mayor all the best with his show."
Gallo said that Spinello "dictates that I pretend he is a Republican. My answer to that decree is no."