Several candidates seeking the position of state representative will be absent tonight for the "Meet the 122nd State Representatives Candidates" night. The event is being sponsored by the 9/12 Project.

Doors will open at 5:15 p.m. for those with dinner reservations and the program will start 6:15 p.m.at the Mahoning Valley Ambulance building, 902 Mill Road, Lehighton. While reservations were required for the casual dinner before the program, anyone who wants to attend tonight's event at 6:15 p.m. is welcome to attend.

The candidates, Justin Yaich, John Wieczorek, Bruce Nalesnik, Jeff Bobish and Att. Robert Frycklund are representing the Democratic party, while Doyle Heffley and Todd Koller are Republicans. The seven candidates are vying to fill the seat of longtime State Representative Keith McCall of Summit Hill, who announced he is not seeking re-election.

Several of the candidates have prior commitments, such as Att. Robert Frycklund who is solicitor for the Schuylkill County Planning Commission. Frycklund said that the schedule for planning commission meetings is set in January for the year.

"I made a commitment and I told my board I will not allow my candidacy to interfere with my job obligations," said Frycklund. Frycklund said that he was not extended an invitation to appear at the event until two days ago.

Bruce Nalesnik is out of town working in Indianapolis, Ind. The moderator, Joe Steber, will be reading his statement. Nalesnik said that the trip was planned months ago.

Justin Yaich, another candidate, said that he believes that the forum planned for tonight would be better suited for the general election and has declined to attend the event.

Yaich said that he also spoke John Wieczorek and Jeff Bobish, and neither candidate will be attending the event.

Steber said that he doesn't understand why the candidates would step away from the opportunity to introduce themselves to the voting public and what they stand for.

"I feel that the most important part of the election is the primary, because that is where you make your choice on who is going to run in the general election," said Steber. "This is just another avenue for candidates to campaign for votes."

Steber said that the 9/12 group is a non partisan group.

"We do not endorse anyone," said Steber. "Our goal is for the public to learn who the candidates are. This forum was set up for the voters in the 122nd District."

Peter Salerno Sr., president of the 9/12 Group, said that it is disappointing that the Democratic candidates are not showing up to express their views and get acquainted with the voters in Carbon County.

"This program was set up for the voters," said Salerno. "We were hoping to get an opportunity to meet everyone."