Two of the three Democratic candidates running for the planning and zoning board and one forcing a primary election in September will face off in a debate Friday aired live on the local cable channel.
Incumbent commissioner and former Middletown Democratic Town Committee Chair Dan Russo, newcomer Robert Blanchard, who serves on the Veteran's Memorial Park Committee and is a driver for Attorney General Jepsen, and Wesleyan Professor Stephen Devoto, a successful petitioning candidate for P&Z, will take part in the discussion.
Paul Turenne, associate registrar at Wesleyan University, was unable to attend the debate.
In July, Middletown's Democratic Town Committee caucus nominated Russo, Blanchard and Turenne for its November slate. Devoto, whose nomination came from the floor, didn't earn enough votes but has since earned enough petition signatures to qualify for a Democratic primary election on Sept. 10.
On Tuesday, Devoto earned the Realistic Balance party's endorsement for planning and zoning.
Former Chair of the Middletown Commission on the Arts Lee Godburn will moderate the event at the Comcast Studio in Cromwell at 8 p.m. Residents can watch the debate on Comcast public access channel 15.
Questions will run the gamut from how to improve the planning and zoning commission to hot-button issues like whether Middletown's P&Z process favors the rights of developers over those of neighborhoods.
The city's zoning board was under fire earlier this year during its approval of a controversial drive-through retail-restaurant complex along a historic residential stretch of Route 66 in Middletown. A High Street resident is suing a local developer and the zoning commission for its March 13 passage of the plan, charging it was “arbitrary, capricious, illegal, in abuse of its discretion and ultra vires [‘beyond its powers’].”