News of Otsego County

March 18 elections

At 1-Year-Old, Candidate Unsure She’ll Make Debate


At ‘1-Year-Old,’ Candidate

Unsure She’ll Make Debate

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Candidate Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns enters Village Hall Monday, Feb. 10, to submit petitions to run for Village Board. ( photo)

COOPERSTOWN – Tuesday, March 3 is “my first birthday,” Republican Village Board candidate Mary Margaret Robbins Sohns explained, when asked why she couldn’t yet commit to the League of Women Voters’ debate 7-9 p.m. Thursday, March 5 at 22 Main.

“I lost my heart last year,” said the heart-transplant survivor, “and got a new one.  So I will be one-year old.”

On the first year anniversary, heart-transplant recipients are required to undergo a particular surgical procedure, Robbins said.  Since receiving the League’s debate invitation, over Presidents’ Day Weekend, she’s discovered her surgeon is vacationing in Europe, she’s been unable to determine if the procedure will be that week or the following week.

So she’s been unable yet to commit to commit.

Meanwhile, the two Democratic incumbents, Joe Membrino and MacGuire Benton, who are running for their first full terms, have said they will be there, according to Maureen Murray, a member of the League’s Voter Service Committee who is organizing the debate.

According to League guidelines, debates have to be firmed up in time to be publicized in The Freeman’s Journal, which went to press Tuesday evening, Feb. 26, and arrives in local mailboxes Thursday the 28th, the last edition that can ensure the publicity will be in readers’ hands before the debate.

While Robbins was unable to commit as of the deadline, Murray said Robbins will be welcome to attend is her schedule allows.

The two trustee slots are for three years and, if elected, Robbins would be the first non-Democrat elected to village office since 2010.

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch is also up for election, but doesn’t have a challenger.  She will be introduced on the debate night, but since she is unopposed she doesn’t qualify under League guidelines to participate, Murray said.  However, the mayor will be available after the debate to answer questions from attendees.

Liane Hirabayashi, co-president of the League, will moderate.

Despite the scheduling challenges, Robbins hope the pieces will fall into place.

“It looks like, potentially, I will be able to do it,” Robbins said.  “But this is something that is out of my control.”  She had hoped her physician’s office would confirm by Tuesday’s deadline, but with her doctor away, “there are a lot of moving parts.”

“It is what it is,” she added.  “If they want to go ahead, I don’t want to stop the process either.  I think (the debate) is a very important part of the process.  I didn’t want to promise something, then not be able to deliver it.”

The League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area will host a Candidates’ Debate for Village Trustee positions on Thursday, March 5, 2020 in the Village Meeting Room, 22 Main Street, Cooperstown New York.  The debate is planned 7-9 p.m.

Three candidates will be seeking two trustee positions.  Current trustees MacGuire Benton, Democratic and Many Voices, One Village parties, and Joseph Membrino, Democratic and Liberty parties will run for another term.  Mary Margaret Robbins, running under Republican and Heart of Cooperstown parties, is the third candidate.

Trustees Benton and Membrino have committed to attend the debate.  As of press time, candidate Robbins was unable to commit to attending the event.

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh is uncontested at this election.  Ms. Tillapaugh will be introduced at the debate and will be available for conversation at the close of the debate.

The League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area is a non-partisan, political organization, which does not support or oppose political parties or candidates.  The League believes democracy is not a spectator sport and that providing a forum for citizens to meet and engage in dialogue around Village issues is important.



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