WTAE has cancelled its scheduled end-of-the-month mayoral debate because Republican candidate Josh Wander couldn’t guarantee he would be back in the country.
Justin Antoninotti, WTAE news director, says Republican candidate Josh Wander had originally accepted the invitation for the televised debate sponsored by the station and the League of Women Voters. In late September, however, reports surfaced that Wander and his family were traveling abroad for his job as a security consultant.
In a Sept. 26 Post-Gazette story, Wander said he was still a candidate despite his travels and planned to return for four scheduled candidate events. But Antoninotti says “the Republican candidate couldn’t confirm that he would be available so we made the decision to cancel the debate.”
Wander was challenging Democratic nominee Bill Peduto and Independent candidate Les Ludwig. Ludwig previously told City Paper that Wander’s continued presence on the ballot for the Nov. 5 General Election was a “farce.”
As for Peduto, his campaign spokeswoman Sonya Toler says his campaign strategies won’t change regardless of who else is campaigning.
“Bill is still out there making appearances and knocking on doors,” Toler says. “Nothing has changed from our end.”
We’ve reached out to Wander and will update with any response.
UPDATE: Josh Wander responded to our queries on Twitter about whether he would be attending any of the upcoming debates. "I am trying to make it back in time" he tweeted. And in a direct message about the WTAE debate Wander said, "I offered the network to either do the debate remotely or to send a proxy if I could not be there in person." The station, however, declined.
The mayoral forums begin this week starting at 10 a.m. Monday at the Lincoln Place Presbyterian Church basement, 1202 Muldowney Avenue