Closed debate confuses residents

LONGMEADOW – A taped Select Board candidate debate caused some confusion last week.
Prior to the meeting, two residents sat in the audience of the debate, sponsored by Longmeadow Community Television (LCTV) and held at the Police Community Room. John Fitzgerald and Eleanor Stolar both were under the impression it was a public meeting and were prepared to observe in the audience when Gerard Nolet, who moderated the event, asked them both to leave.
Nolet informed them it was not an open debate, but was only being taped to air on LCTV. Stolar left, but Fitzgerald said it was posted on the LCTV web site and he thought it was a public forum. Nolet then asked Longmeadow Police to escort Fitzgerald out, which they did. Fitzgerald left willingly with police officers.
After the incident, Fitzgerald said he still questioned why the debate was not public, especially because it was held in a public meeting room.
“If it was in a small studio at LCTV I could understand,” he said, blaming Nolet for the situation. “Frankly, I think it was Jerry Nolet’s way to control and frame the debate.”
LCTV Station Manager Dave Bartlett said that was not the case.
“It was not a public meeting,” said Bartlett. “The decision was made by eight or nine people from LCTV.”
The debate took place over a 90-minute period and included a series of questions posed to all three candidates. Incumbents Mark Barowsky and Mark Gold, and challenger Alex Grant, took turns answering the questions posed by Nolet.
The candidates are seeking two three-year terms on the Select Board. Elections are June 11 at the Community House.