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Shuster and DelGrosso confirm participation in April 19 debate at Penn State Altoona

Voters in the Ninth Congressional District will be getting something they’ve hoped for since Tipton resident Michael DelGrosso threw his hat in the ring for the Republican nomination for U.S. Congressman.
Yesterday, incumbent Bill Shuster announced he has accepted a proposal by the Blair County Chamber of Commerce to participate in a candidate’s debate for the primary. Today, DelGrosso also said he’d be there.
The forum, scheduled for April 19 at Penn State Altoona, will bring together two men who have been in a heated battle for voters in the Ninth District for nearly a year.
“The Blair County Chamber of Commerce is happy that a debate was agreed upon by both parties,” said Joe Hurd, executive director of the Chamber.
According to Hurd, the event will take place on Monday, April 19 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Community Art Center on the campus of Penn State Altoona. Moderating the event will be Dr. William Cale, chief executive officer and dean of Penn State Altoona.
Hurd said both DelGrosso and Shuster will be briefed on the ground rules of the event before each candidate will give opening remarks for two minutes. Shuster will offer his opening remarks first, followed by DelGrosso.
Hurd said a coin will be tossed to determine which candidate will be asked the first question, afterwhich, a two-minute response will be allowed. The other candidate will then have a two-minute opportunity to respond, followed by another minute for the candidate who received the first question to rebut.
Hurd said the debate will last about an hour. It will be televised in its entirety following the 11 p.m. news on WTAJ-TV.
Hurd said the Community Art Center will hold about 400 people so tickets are limited. He said each candidate will receive two tickets, 20 will be reserved for media, 100 for PSU faculty, staff and students, and 240 other tickets that will be distributed to interested Chamber members.
Both DelGrosso’s camp and Shuster’s camp offered brief remarks regarding the debate.
“I look forward to the opportunity to engage in a conversation about the issues facing the residents of the Ninth District,” said Shuster. “I think that the debate is a great opportunity to highlight my real leadership and real results for the people of the Ninth District.
“I am very pleased that WTAJ-TV has agreed to provide media outlets across the Ninth District access to the debate, so residents from across the district will be able to see the exchange of ideas and the discussion of issues.”
Justin Meyer, DelGrosso’s campaign manager, said he was disappointed with Shuster’s process in agreeing to the debate, noting Shuster made a number of requests forcing delays in an official announcement.
“I do have concerns Shuster chose April 19 for the debate,” said Meyer. “This is the same day the House goes back in session. I’m sure he is going to like these two weeks to practice for this one debate.
“We signed this agreement weeks ago,” said Meyer, noting DelGrosso’s pledge to debate Shuster ‘anywhere, anytime.’ “We were the first to sign this one and we’ll be the first to sign the next one.”
Meyer said the DelGrosso camp was very appreciative of the professionalism of the organizations involved in organizing the debate.
“They put together a real professional platform and we’re excited to be a part of it,” said Meyer.