Christina Abt, a well known community volunteer, political activist and newspaper/radio personality is the endorsed Democratic and Working Families Party candidate for the New York State Assembly in the 147th District. Abt is also facing a September 13th primary on the Independence Party line. So imagine her surprise when she received an email announcing an upcoming political debate among 147the Assembly Race candidates and not only was she not listed among her all-male opponents, she had not even been invited
“My initial reaction to the snub was frustration,” Abt said. “Everywhere I hear that not enough women get involved and run for office. Well no wonder, when this kind of thing happens. However after talking to the debate organizers, I think this is a case of poor organization and miscommunication more than actual discrimination. None the less, it is still an improper political forum, in my opinion, especially when two of the organizers are local not for profit organizations who continually promote themselves as positive forces in our community.”
The debate is being organized by City and State Magazine, a New York City based publication focused on political news, in collaboration with Partnership for the Public Good (PPG) and the YWCA of Western New York. It will be held at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society on Tuesday August 21 beginning at 5 pm. Event organizers are promoting the event as a debate night of, “some hotly contested races this fall-in both the primaries and general elections.” Abt notes that the design of the event is unacceptable for any candidate.
“I have spoken to all of the debate organizers. They have explained that my exclusion is based on the fact that they were featuring only candidates in primary races,” Abt said. “However what that proves to me is a lack of event organization as I am involved in a primary race for the 147th Assembly District. Equally as significant is the fact that my primary opponent is one of the men who is also running on the GOP line. So he will have a public forum to debate, while I am left out. It’s just wrong and I’m taking this public stand so that candidates in the future will not be treated in this manner. It takes a lot of courage and stamina to step forward and run for public office these days. People who do so need to be treated with respect, and not as fodder for a news publication’s promotional purposes.”
According to Abt, City and State Marketing Director, Andrew Holt, offered her the possibility of an interview with the publication’s editor and the probable inclusion in a future general election debate, but no invitation to participate in the upcoming event.
“I pointedly asked if they were going to include me,” Abt said. “Mr. Holt’s reply was that I needed to see it from the perspective of the candidates in my race who had already committed to the debate. He explained that it wouldn’t be fair to invite me after the other candidates had already replied and they might decide not to show up if I was invited after the fact. If this wasn’t so absurd, it would be laughable. And the fact that I am a graduate of the YWCA’s Leadership Institute Campaign School is just an additional insult. So rather than focus on this exclusionary action, I’m going to continue going door to door and attending district events, talking to my constituents and hearing their concerns, so that when I am elected, I can serve them as an effective assemblywoman. ”