Browning, Miller to square off in Sept. 29 debate for Lehigh Valley’s 14th Senate District seat

Debates previously have been announced in 134th and 22nd state House races

By: - September 22, 2022 12:51 pm
Photo by Tyler Callahan on Unsplash

(Photo by Tyler Callahan on Unsplash/Armchair Lehigh Valley)

The League of Women Voters of Lehigh County has lined up another debate.

This one is between Democrat Nick Miller, an Allentown School Board member, and Republican Dean Browning, a former Lehigh County commissioner, who are vying for the 14th state Senate seat.

They will square off at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 29 at Fellowship Community,  3000 Fellowship Drive,  Whitehall. Doors open at 6 p.m.

The 14th is a newly drawn district that in Lehigh County covers Hanover, Salisbury and Whitehall Townships and Catasauqua, Coplay, Emmaus and Fountain Hill along with parts of South Whitehall Township and Allentown. In Northampton County, it covers  Allen, Bushkill, East Allen, Hanover, Lehigh and Moore Townships and Bath, Chapman, North Catasauqua, Northampton and Walnutport.

Previously announced debates include:

In the 134th state House race, incumbent Democrat Peter Schweyer will debate Republican Brent Labenberg, president of Emmaus Borough Council, at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 6  at the Lehigh Valley Active Life Center, 16th and Elm streets, in Allentown. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

The 134th covers Emmaus and parts of Allentown and Salisbury Township. Schweyer is currently serving in the 22nd District, but redistricting put his Allentown residence in the 134th.

In the 22nd state House race, Democrat Josh Siegel, an Allentown city council member, will debate Republican Robert E. Smith Jr., a former Allentown School Board member, at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Lehigh County Conference of Churches, 457 W.  Allen St., Allentown. Doors open at 6 p.m., according to the League’s latest newsletter.

The 22nd District covers parts of Allentown and Salisbury Township. It was carved out during mandated redistricting and has no incumbent.

The debate rules are as follows:

  • A candidate must be on the official Pennsylvania Department of State Ballot.
  • If only one candidate appears for a forum/debate, the event will be canceled.
  • Campaign literature may be available outside the meeting room on a designated table but may not be distributed as the audience enters. No campaign signs are permitted to be placed outside the venue.
  • The moderator will summarize the rules and explain the format to the candidates and audience. The moderator will have the responsibility for enforcing time limits, and will have the authority to interrupt the proceedings to enforce the ground rules and format established by the League and agreed to by each candidate.
  • Time will be kept by two timekeepers and countdown cards will be visible to both the moderator and the candidates.
  • Candidates will draw for the order in which they give opening statements, and then reversed for closing statements (two minutes each). They are encouraged to include their qualifications and background.
  • Subsequently, candidates will be asked questions prepared by the League of Women Voters, citizens in attendance, and possibly two or three students from the local school district. Questions submitted by citizens and students will be reviewed and approved by the LWV before being asked by the moderator.
  • Each question asked by the moderator will be asked of both candidates. The moderator will rotate the order of which candidate is asked first. Each candidate will have 90 seconds to answer each question.
  • Members of the audience are required to refrain from applause or interaction during the course of the debate. (No outbursts, booing or cheering.) Applauding may occur at the end of the debate, after closing statements and after final commentary by the moderator.
  • Candidates will NOT interrupt each other when answering questions. Candidates may not ask each other questions during any part of the debate.
  • Following the allotted time for all questions, candidates will make a two-minute closing statement in reverse order from opening statements.
  • The League of Women Voters reserves the right to publicize the forum/debate and may invite the media – not associated with either candidate – to provide televised, radio or print coverage. The only audio and/or video recording of the forum that may be conducted are by individuals who have received written approval of the League, except for media reporting on the forum, who may use short recordings. If the event is recorded, participants agree that copyright ownership of those recordings resides with the League of Women Voters.
  • The candidates agree that they, their organizations and their supporters will not use the debate/forum or any audio clips, video clips or transcripts for political advertising, or other purposes without written permission from the League of Women Voters of Lehigh County.

In a statement, organizers noted that that all area candidates running in the Nov. 8 general election were asked to participate in debates. “Regretfully, there were a number who declined or have not yet answered, or waited too late to answer,” organizers said.

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Katherine Reinhard
Katherine Reinhard

Katherine Reinhard, a veteran journalist, is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Lehigh Valley Correspondent and a co-editor of Armchair Lehigh Valley, a Substack newsletter focused on politics in the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton region.