Hoffman, Barrar point fingers

***UPDATED 5:08 p.m.***

Whitney Hoffman said state Rep. Stephen Barrar is too intimidated to debate her in public. Barrar responded by saying Hoffman’s comment reflects “phony outrage.”

Hoffman is challenging Barrar in next week’s election while Barrar is the incumbent Republican vying for a 10th term as representative for the 160th Legislative District.

In a press release, Hoffman said the Chester County League of Women Voters had been unable to get Barrar to commit to a debate, despite repeated attempts.

“With the district now covering Kennett Square Borough, Kennett Township and Pennsbury Township, I am surprised Steve would not want to give the community a chance to get to know him better and make his case for continuing in office in this expanded district,” she said in the release.

In a follow-up interview, Hoffman said it’s fear on Barrar’s part.

Stephen Barrar

Stephen Barrar

“I would like to have an additional opportunity to air our positions in a public forum, but I think he may have been a little intimidated by our previous engagement at Fox Hollow, so I think he’s not real excited about meeting me in public again,” she said.

Barrar said nothing could be further from the truth.

Whitney Hoffman

Whitney Hoffman

“That’s just phony outrage. She had the opportunity to ask me for a debate, but didn’t,” Barrar said.

He said she could have asked for a debate while the two were at the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce Luncheon two weeks ago and questioned Hoffman’s timing in issuing the press release.

“Why did she wait so long? We have [eight] days left before the election. I have something planned every night. I’m so busy with stuff I don’t have the time. We told her to contact us in August,” he said.

Barrar added that the League of Women Voters has not contacted him.

*** UPDATE*** Mary Lou Dondero of the Chester County League of Women Voters said her group tried contacting Barrar but was not able to get through. She said it was not a matter of him ducking a debate, but thought he was too busy with a variety of other commitments.***End Update***

Also in the release, Hoffman said that Barrar backs legislation that would allow outside organizations such as the NRA to sue local municipalities regarding local firearms ordinances.

She said that if a local resident has an issue with a township ordinance, that’s one thing. It’s another, however, if an outside organization gets involved.

“If third-party organizations enter the suit, that means there’s going to be a whole lot more money being directed at these cases. The NRA obviously has deep pockets. I don’t think the townships have nearly as deep pockets. It’s a recipe to have a lot of litigation that’s going to be incredibly costly for ordinances that folks have decided are necessary for safety reasons.”

She added that just as there are limitations on the right to free speech, such as not being allowed to shout fire in a crowded theater, there should be common sense restrictions on other rights.

“Not every right that we have is absolute,” Hoffman said.

Barrar affirmed he has backed such legislation, saying other groups can sue as well.

“Right now, environmental groups have the right to sue local municipalities. Planned Parenthood has a right to sue local municipalities…if [municipalities] have a law on the books that is deemed to be unconstitutional,” he said.

Barrar said he supports legislation that allows the NRA to do the same.

“This is not just an open-ended way to go into municipalities and sue them for just having certain restrictions,” he added.

Hoffman and Barrar took part in a candidates’ night at Fox Hollow Farm in Concord Township on Oct. 9. For that story go here:

The election is Tuesday, Nov. 4. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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