September 27, 2010
Candidates spar at voter forum
Mudslinging marks event put on by Women's Coalition of Cortland
Sparks flew between two sets of opponents during the Candidates' Forum held Saturday at the Cortland Elks Club.
Richard Hanna, the Republican candidate for the 24th Congressional District, said he has never supported privatizing Social Security, and demanded that television advertisements saying that he had be pulled.
"The truth hurts," incumbent Rep. Michael Arcuri responded out of turn. He argued it is easy to complain and point fingers, but Hanna is not coming up with ideas.
"Dishonest comments are a sign of desperation," Hanna said later in the forum. He continued by attacking Arcuri's voting record, saying that "rubber stamps don't need ideas."
Eight candidates for state and national offices spoke at the forum organized by the Women's Coalition of Cortland.
Arcuri and Hanna also sparred over stimulus packages. Arcuri (D-Utica) said that Cortland County approved of stimulus packages that helped save jobs for police, firefighters and school teachers.
"That is the perfect diatribe on how to spend yourself out of prosperity," said Hanna, who said a much more realistic stimulus package was needed to create jobs all over Upstate New York.
Hanna said he opposes hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, a controversial drilling process for natural gas deep within the Earth. Arcuri said he is also against it. There are more questions to be answered and issues to be explored before the process should be done in the state, he said, adding that he will continue to focus on environmental conservation.
David Kauber made the trip from Aurora to hear the candidates' views on hydrofracking. He said the forum did not change his mind on who he would vote for, but was interested to see what the other politicians had to say.
He would vote for Arcuri, he said, but added he was impressed by what Hanna had to say.
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca) said she is proud of her track record, which includes leading the charge against hydrofracking. Her opponent, Republican Tom Reynolds, argued that it is a proven technology, and that the issue is economical as well as environmental, and that there needs to be more information.
"You, the voters, need the straight scoop, and I will get it," said Reynolds.
He went on to challenge Lifton's decisions on government spending, and said Lifton is avoiding debating him, which Lifton denies.
"She's ducking me, and I'd duck too if I was in her shoes," he said.
Reynolds added that government spending is not the answer, and that government needs to cut spending and taxes to put money back in voters' pockets.
"I was confused by the mudslinging, I want the facts," said Kathy Beardsly, a Homer native. "The mudslinging turned me off."
Jay Townsend, the Republican candidate running against U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, was also at the forum. He said he feels the state is spending beyond its means, and borrowing too much money. He added that the stimulus and current health care systems are not working, and need to be repealed and started over.
"I was very impressed. I'm a registered party member, but I'm interested in the other people," said Joan Johnson, a Cortland native, about the third party candidates.
Warren Redlich, the Libertarian candidate for governor, said both major parties have let the people down. He warned that both parties are funded by special interests, and favor those over voters. His ideas, if he is elected, include capping public sector pay, improving mass transit, and stopping the waste of taxpayer money.
Libertarian candidate for New York Comptroller, John Gaetani, said his 25 years of experience in government auditing and accounting would be helpful to the state. He urged politicians to cut spending at state and local levels.
Cecile Lawrence, a former SUNY Cortland professor who is running for United States Senate on the Green Party ticket, said she believes her experience as an immigrant coming into the country will come in handy. She supports single-payer health coverage for all and bringing U.S. soldiers home from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other military bases around the world where they are not welcome. She also said she supports a total ban on hydrofracking, because she feels there is no way for it to be done safely.
"If we can't be informed, responsible citizens, how can we vote for anyone?" Beardsly said. "This was a wonderful opportunity for voters of Cortland County to be informed and vote responsibly."
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