Castle’s absence from the forum had puzzled and upset members of the League , as well as several of Castle’s Democratic supporters who had gathered for the event, held at the Germantown Municipal Center. Republican nominee Mark White and independent candidate John Andreuccetti did attend and take part.
Before the proceedings got under way, League president Peg Watkins read what seemed to be a statement from Castle, received at 3:30 Monday afternoon, announcing that a scheduling conflict prevented him from attending. Watkins and other attendees told the Flyer at the time, and repeated later, that Castle had committed to attend days earlier.
But Castle says otherwise, and Madalyn Phillips, the League’s liaison with him, said that she had only been given the “impression” Castle would be there but could not specify a specific statement from Castle indicating as much.
Phillips had contacted Castle and the other candidates in December, asking essentially if they had last Monday night’s date free. All did, but at that time she was unable to give the candidates a definite venue. Phillips herself blames a change of ownership at Homebuilders, the structure on Germantrown Parkway where the League had hoped to hold the proceeding.
According to Phillips, hard and fast particulars for the forum were delayed by extended negotiations with Homebuilders’ new owners concerning rental terms and other matters. When no deal satisfactory to everyone could be made, Germantown mayor Sharon Goldsworthy offered the city facility for the event, free of charge, and the League accepted.
Phillips attributes the failure to pin down all three candidates not to recalcitrance by Castle, but to the delay in being able to settle on a venue for the forum.
The election in House District 83 will take place Tiuesday, the same day as the opening of the Tennessee General Assembly, and presumably the winner will go immediately to Nashville to be sworn in.