NEWPORT TWP. — State Rep. Gerald Mullery wants to debate his opponent twice before the May Primary.
Mullery, D-Newport Township, issued the challenge in a letter to Anthony Bonomo, noting that with only two months before the May primary date, “we have limited time to communicate our respective messages to the voters of the 119th Legislative District.”
When contacted Tuesday, Bonomo said he had just left work and had not received the letter from Mullery. After briefly dodging the question, Bonomo said he would accept the challenge.
“Tell him I will debate him,” Bonomo said.
But Bonomo also had another message for Mullery.
“Tell Mr. Mullery that he should be worrying about other things like dealing with his constituents, which he hasn’t done,” Bonomo, 55, said. “Many of them don’t even know who he is.”
In his letter to Bonomo, Mullery said communicating each candidate’s message is a serious responsibility.
“Part of that responsibility is to be available to open scrutiny of our positions on the issues that matter most to the families of this district,” Mullery said. “There is no greater opportunity to communicate our positions than through public debate.”
Bonomo expressed concern about when and where the debates would be held. Mullery said he feels confident a civic organization would be willing to host and moderate the debates.
Mullery said he would contact the League of Women Voters, Hazleton Area Chamber of Commerce, South Valley Chamber, Mountaintop on the Move or Newport Township Community Organization, “to name a few,” to set up debates.
“Additionally, I would be willing to entertain any input from Mr. Bonomo in this regard,” he said.
Mullery said it would be a great service to the voters and a signal of mutual respect for the voters’ “thoughtful decision” in this race.
In February, Mullery filed a complaint with the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, alleging Bonomo signed one of Mullery ’s nominating petitions using another name.
Bonomo, of West Hazleton, acknowledged he was at Alden Manor on Feb. 20 for Mullery ’s petition-signing party. He said he “couldn’t recall” what name he may have signed on the petition.
He said he didn’t believe he committed a criminal act.
By state law, 300 valid signatures are required to have one’s name appear on a primary election ballot for state representative.