Mayoral candidates withdraw from panel

Credit: Maria Raffaele/Assistant Art Editor Credit: Maria Raffaele/Assistant Art Editor

With the mayoral elections looming just around the corner, the Carnegie Mellon student government decided to host a forum in order to make the student body more aware of the issues at hand. A forum was planned in which all three main candidates — Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Kevin Acklin, and Franco Dok Harris — agreed to come, speak, and answer questions. All three candidates had confirmed their commitment to the event, understanding that the program would not be a debate but would consist of each man receiving 20 to 30 minutes alone on stage to say their piece and take questions.

The day after Ravenstahl spoke at Chatham University — where he was faced with angry G-20 protesters, students, and community members demanding answers to tough questions — he pulled out of the Carnegie Mellon forum. Soon afterward, Acklin also pulled out, citing his “schedule conflicting,” leaving only Dok Harris.
“It’s disappointing,” said Anna Romanova, a sophomore biology major. “This would have been a great chance for students to hear these men speak, and it would also have been a great opportunity for these candidates to hear what students are concerned about.”

Paul McKrell, Ravenstahl’s campaign manager, denies that the mayor had ever fully agreed to be part of the forum, stating that the event had “never been confirmed” and that there are a lot of forums that they would love to attend. McKrell said that the mayor had received a “wonderful response from [the] students” of Chatham, indicating that the response there was not associated with the decision.

The negativity had only come from “G-20 protesters who couldn’t get over” the incidents of that weekend. He then repeated that the reason that the mayor could not attend Carnegie Mellon’s forum was due to “scheduling conflicts.”

John Fournier, from Kevin Acklin’s campaign, said that the reasoning behind their unfortunate withdrawal also had to do with scheduling conflicts.

He stated that this was unfortunate, as Acklin had been actively “reaching out to the college community” of Pittsburgh. Fournier said that Acklin’s campaign had “not [been] aware” of the mayor’s decision.

One major issue in the race that would actively affect the college community is the mayor’s hope to tax students in order to raise revenue.

Fournier said that this was not even on the table for the Acklin campaign. They are “absolutely opposed to raising taxes on working people, which includes hospital patients and students.”

The Carnegie Mellon student body president, Rotimi Abimbola, one of those who had actively pushed for this forum to take place, said that it is important for students to get educated about the issues.

“Our voice is a powerful voice,” she said, which is why she was confused about Ravenstahl’s and Acklin’s decisions. “To me it was a big deal; [this event is a] huge opportunity to reach out to many students on campus.” Abimbola added that Carnegie Mellon would have tried to “work around” the scheduling conflicts.

Students who were registered to vote in the presidential election last year remain eligible in tomorrow’s election.