Tom Suozzi and Mazi Melesa Pilip, running in a Feb....

Tom Suozzi and Mazi Melesa Pilip, running in a Feb. 13 special election for New York's 3rd Congressional District, have agreed to one televised debate so far.  Credit: Craig Ruttle/Howard Schnapp

Democrat Tom Suozzi is pressing Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip to appear in more debates before the Feb. 13 special election in New York's 3rd Congressional District, with both candidates scheduled to appear in one televised debate so far.

As of Friday, only News 12 Long Island had set a debate — for Feb. 8. Both Suozzi, who formerly represented the 3rd District, and Pilip, a Nassau County legislator, are scheduled to participate, Altice USA spokesman Hayden Cox confirmed.

The Suozzi campaign said he has accepted invitations from three other television networks: NBC 4 New York/Telemundo 47, WABC and NY-1/WNYC. Brian Devine, a spokesman for Pilip's campaign, said she had declined offers from those networks because of scheduling conflicts. NewsdayTV is in discussions with both campaigns for a possible debate event later this month.

Suozzi senior adviser Kim Devlin accused Pilip of dodging discussion of substantive issues.

“Since the day she was hand-picked for this race by the party bosses, she has refused to answer basic questions, literally hidden from the press, has not given a single clear answer on any of the serious issues of this campaign, and refuses to debate,” Devlin said in a statement. Devlin also noted early voting, which begins Feb. 3, already will have started by the time of the News 12 debate.

Devine said Pilip had a number of commitments and could not accommodate the networks' requests in the limited time she has to campaign.

“Mazi is working to accommodate as many media requests as possible leading up to the special election,” Devine said in a statement. “As such, she has already agreed to a televised debate. Unfortunately, her schedule has quickly filled up, making some other requested debate dates unworkable. Mazi has prioritized spending time attending community events and meeting with voters throughout the 3rd District, listening to their feedback regarding the issues that are of concern to their communities.”

Leaders of various civic associations said they, too, were having trouble arranging candidate forums with Pilip.

The League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset said it could not hold a candidate forum because Pilip did not respond to their request. Leagues across New York have a “no empty chair” policy, barring forums with only one candidate.

Bill Cutrone, president of the Lakeville Estates Civic Association, said Pilip declined to participate in a forum scheduled for Jan. 11 at Clinton G. Martin Park in New Hyde Park. The association represents 18,000 homeowners in communities such as New Hyde Park, Manhasset Hills, Herricks and Garden City Park.

Cutrone said a Pilip campaign representative at first had agreed to the invitation, but the campaign said subsequently Pilip could not attend because of other appointments. Suozzi will speak at the event alone, and the civic will pose questions submitted by the public, Cutrone said.

Devine said the campaign never committed to the event because Pilip has a fundraiser that night.

Devine also expressed concern about Suozzi speaking at a park operated by North Hempstead Town.

“It will be a political rally on government property, without equal representation,” said Devine.

Democrat Tom Suozzi is pressing Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip to appear in more debates before the Feb. 13 special election in New York's 3rd Congressional District, with both candidates scheduled to appear in one televised debate so far.

As of Friday, only News 12 Long Island had set a debate — for Feb. 8. Both Suozzi, who formerly represented the 3rd District, and Pilip, a Nassau County legislator, are scheduled to participate, Altice USA spokesman Hayden Cox confirmed.

The Suozzi campaign said he has accepted invitations from three other television networks: NBC 4 New York/Telemundo 47, WABC and NY-1/WNYC. Brian Devine, a spokesman for Pilip's campaign, said she had declined offers from those networks because of scheduling conflicts. NewsdayTV is in discussions with both campaigns for a possible debate event later this month.

Suozzi senior adviser Kim Devlin accused Pilip of dodging discussion of substantive issues.

“Since the day she was hand-picked for this race by the party bosses, she has refused to answer basic questions, literally hidden from the press, has not given a single clear answer on any of the serious issues of this campaign, and refuses to debate,” Devlin said in a statement. Devlin also noted early voting, which begins Feb. 3, already will have started by the time of the News 12 debate.

Devine said Pilip had a number of commitments and could not accommodate the networks' requests in the limited time she has to campaign.

“Mazi is working to accommodate as many media requests as possible leading up to the special election,” Devine said in a statement. “As such, she has already agreed to a televised debate. Unfortunately, her schedule has quickly filled up, making some other requested debate dates unworkable. Mazi has prioritized spending time attending community events and meeting with voters throughout the 3rd District, listening to their feedback regarding the issues that are of concern to their communities.”

Leaders of various civic associations said they, too, were having trouble arranging candidate forums with Pilip.

The League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset said it could not hold a candidate forum because Pilip did not respond to their request. Leagues across New York have a “no empty chair” policy, barring forums with only one candidate.

Bill Cutrone, president of the Lakeville Estates Civic Association, said Pilip declined to participate in a forum scheduled for Jan. 11 at Clinton G. Martin Park in New Hyde Park. The association represents 18,000 homeowners in communities such as New Hyde Park, Manhasset Hills, Herricks and Garden City Park.

Cutrone said a Pilip campaign representative at first had agreed to the invitation, but the campaign said subsequently Pilip could not attend because of other appointments. Suozzi will speak at the event alone, and the civic will pose questions submitted by the public, Cutrone said.

Devine said the campaign never committed to the event because Pilip has a fundraiser that night.

Devine also expressed concern about Suozzi speaking at a park operated by North Hempstead Town.

“It will be a political rally on government property, without equal representation,” said Devine.

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