MALONE — State Assembly candidates Timothy Carpenter and Karen Bisso agree on several high-profile issues, but they differ on one notable one.
At a candidates forum at the Franklin County Government Center Tuesday night, Carpenter said he supports gay marriage while Bisso said she does not.
“I probably would have supported it,” Carpenter said when asked about the gay-marriage legislation that was approved by the New York State Legislature last year.
Carpenter said that as a member of the Assembly he would support the same rules for everyone, and it would not be fair for same-sex couples to be deprived of the legal benefits of marriage.
Bisso said she believes the definition of marriage is between a man and a woman and that if there are legal inequities for gay people, they can be addressed through other means.
“Those inequities could have been tackled in a different way. That doesn’t mean you have to change the definition of marriage,” Bisso said.
DUPREY IN ALBANY
Bisso, a longtime City of Plattsburgh school teacher, is running as the Conservative Party candidate in the race for the 115th District seat.
Carpenter, a state correction officer and a City of Plattsburgh councilor from Ward 1, is running as a Democrat.
They both are trying to unseat Republican incumbent Assemblywoman Janet Duprey of Peru. Duprey, who has been in the Assembly since 2006, voted in favor of gay marriage last year.
Bisso and Carpenter spoke to a small group of about a dozen people from around Franklin County Tuesday night in the forum moderated by WAMC’s Pat Bradley.
Duprey did not attend the event, citing scheduling conflicts with her Assembly duties that were scheduled months ago.
“I won’t give up something I’ve committed to as an Assembly member for a campaign,” she said Tuesday afternoon.
“I know the issues, and I know what I stand for, and I am happy to debate with anyone, but I’ve never canceled an Assembly event for a campaign appearance, and I never will.”
Duprey said she was booked with events for all but two days in October.
Carpenter and Bisso shared a cordial evening, discussing issues openly and freely without any hostilities.
They agreed that more needs to be done to improve the North Country economy and encourage businesses to invest in the area, that the state’s property-tax cap requires some kind of mandate relief for local governments and that a railroad line between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid may be better suited for hiking, skiing and bicycling than rail service.
They both also agreed that the Adirondack Park Agency is too restrictive for local issues.
Bisso and Carpenter did disagree on term limits, with Carpenter saying he is against them and Bisso supporting them.
“I believe the best form of term limits is an educated populace,” Bisso said. “But I do believe there is a time when someone’s time should be up.”
Carpenter said that if there were term limits, the North Country would not have benefited from the many earmarks that former State Sen. Ronald B. Stafford obtained in his 37 years in the Senate, including the last half dozen as the powerful Senate Finance chairman.
Bisso and Carpenter are scheduled to debate again at 7 tonight at a similar forum at the Beekmantown Town Hall on Spellman Road. Duprey will again miss the event, which is open to all, due to Assembly commitments.
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