By DAN HEATH
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Candidates for the New York State Assembly’s 115th District faced off in a debate at Mountain Lake PBS Monday morning.
The participants were incumbent Republican candidate Janet Duprey, Conservative Party candidate Karen Bisso and Democratic Party candidate Tim Carpenter.
In his opening statement, Carpenter said his top three priorities are job creation, job creation and job creation. He said that would reduce spending on unemployment and stimulate the economy.
“We need to get people employed,” he said.
Duprey said the most satisfying part of the Assembly job is the ability to serve the constituents of the district. She doesn’t understand why some people view seniority as a detriment in politics.
Bisso said she is most concerned about the high costs of living and doing business in the state, which are adversely affecting farmers, seniors, veterans, small-business owners and students.
‘LOCAL INPUT KEY’
Duprey said she was pleased with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to create 10 Regional Economic Development Councils and the $103.2 million the North Country Council received last year. The key was allowing local input in economic development priorities, she said.
Bisso said the councils are nothing more than a duplication of President Barack Obama’s failed economic stimulus plan. She opposes giving $2.5 million to a company like Bombardier Transportation, which had massive profits last year.
“I think that’s an injustice,” she said.
Carpenter said it will take a few years to see if the plan worked.
“It’s a little too early for us to determine if this is a good thing or a bad thing,” he said.
The candidates were asked about their views on mandate relief. Carpenter said if they are able to create enough new jobs, they will then be able to change the tax system and bring about meaningful mandate relief.
Bisso said there have been 13 new unfunded mandates this year.
“So clearly, mandate relief is not happening,” she said.
Medicaid alone takes up 55 percent of the Clinton County budget, with similar figures in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties. She would like to see a one-year residency requirement before someone was able to qualify for Medicare assistance.
Duprey said mandate relief is a tough issue. For every mandate that has come through, there is someone who thought it was a good idea.
She said the courts have ruled it’s not legal to require a one-year residency to receive Medicare assistance.
‘WAIT AND SEE’
Bisso said she’s not in favor of the state’s acquisition of 69,000 acres of former Finch-Pruyn land in the Adirondack Park from the Nature Conservancy. She said that will remove the property from the tax roll.
“I’d like to know what’s wrong with private ownership of land,” she said.
Duprey said she was initially opposed to the acquisition, but is pleased much of the property will be open to the public once it is in state hands.
“At least it looks like it’s going to be used properly,” she said.
Carpenter said he needs to see how the land is to be used, whether it will be used to create forestry jobs. As long as it’s used properly, he said he has no problem with the state’s acquisition.
The candidates were asked their views on the use of hydraulic fracturing in drilling for natural gas deposits in the Marcellus shale deposits in the Southern Tier. Duprey said it has become a huge issue in the state.
“I support the number of jobs that would come out of drilling for natural gas in New York state,” she said, adding only if drinking water quality is not affected.
Carpenter said he signed an online petition that asks the state to hold off on approval until the environmental affects are fully understood.
Bisso said she’s in favor of hydrofracking as an economic development tool as long as it is safe for the environment.
The debate aired on Mountain Lake on Monday evening.
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