Stamford mayoral candidate left off debate cries foul

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STAMFORD -

John Zito, an independent candidate for Stamford mayor, says he was unfairly left out of a Monday night debate at Rippowam Middle School.

The Prometheum Foundation, which is hosting the debate, says Zito failed to meet criteria issued months ago.

"I think it's unfair for them not to have me come in and do a debate, where the taxpayers want to hear all the candidates," Zito says. "They want to hear what we have to say."

Part of the requirements are having a website and dedicated phone line. Zito has a website but no dedicated phone.

"Had Mr. Zito put more time and effort into his campaign, we'd have been happy to have him," says Stephen Bowling, the foundation's president. "Had he even come close to our criteria, we would have included him."

Bowling says the group requires candidates to meet half of its 11 criteria.

Other requirements debate organizers say Zito failed to meet include raising at least $10,000 in campaign money and scoring at least 5 percent of the vote in a previous race. They also say he does not have a dedicated campaign office.

Guidelines say that nonprofits are allowed to impose reasonable, objective restrictions on who is allowed to debate, but only if including everyone is impractical.

Other debates, including one by News 12 Connecticut, included Zito.

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