Republican mayoral candidate Joel Schiavone ’58 has questioned Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s commitment to city neighborhoods after DeStefano rejected Schiavone’s challenge for mayoral debates.

On Aug. 20, Schiavone sent a letter to DeStefano requesting that the two men hold a series of neighborhood debates in the 11 weeks before the Nov. 6 election. DeStefano subsequently declined the offer, a decision he has upheld since his victory in the Democratic primary on Sept. 11.

Ted LeVasseur, Schiavone’s campaign manager, said he is very disappointed with the mayor’s choice.Ê

“What we wanted to do is have a debate in each neighborhood because each neighborhood has such unique complaints,” said Ted LeVasseur, Schiavone’s campaign manager.

Julio Gonzalez, DeStefano’s campaign manager, said that holding neighborhood specific debates is not necessary because the two have already debated on numerous occasions and in varied locales.

“The major reason we declined to do the neighborhood debates was because we’ve already debated Schiavone quite a few times,” Gonzalez said. “We will debate him again.”

Gonzalez cited previous debates in Westville, Dixwell, Newhallville, and in the Hill. The two candidates will also meet at the New Haven Colony Historical Society later this month.Ê

“We have debated more than any other Republican and Democratic candidates since the fifties,” Gonzalez said.Ê

DeStefano is heavily favored in the Nov. 6 election, running in a city where 37,346 of the registered 54,444 voters are registered as Democrats, and only 2,801 are registered Republicans.

But LeVasseur said that DeStefano’s refusal to hold neighborhood specific debates goes against his campaign slogan of “Putting Neighborhoods First.”

“The Yale Entreprenurial Society, Southern Connecticut State University, and the Bella Vista senior community all expressed interest in holding these debates,” LeVasseur said. “But it was no, no, no. Quite frankly, DeStefano has neglected neighborhoods.”

Gonzalez said Schiavone’s request was unrealistic.

“If we had a debate in every neighborhood, we’d be debating a dozen times,” he said.Ê

Gonzalez said community members have many opportunities to speak with the mayor, including the “Mayor’s Night In and Mayor’s Night Out” events in which DeStefano receives community members at his office or at a given location in the New Haven area.

“The mayor is routinely available to anybody who wants to talk about what is happening in the city,” Gonzalez said.