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State Senate Candidate Brian Howard Attends Debate Alone

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Republican State Senator Kathy Marchione of New York’s 43rd District backed out of a debate scheduled for Tuesday in Saratoga County, and her Democratic opponent in the race addressed voters alone.

The Saratoga County League of Women Voters-sponsored forum Tuesday night at Saratoga Springs’ Maple Avenue Middle School was one candidate short. After a debate between 113th District state assembly candidates Republican Steve Stallmer and Democrat Carrie Woerner, 43rd Senate District candidate Democrat Brian Howard faced the audience alone.

His opponent, incumbent Senator Kathy Marchione, canceled Friday afternoon.

Howard, a former educator and school superintendent, said had been looking forward to discussing the issues before voters with the first-term Senator.

“I believe that if you make a commitment, you stick with the commitment, and I have great respect for the League of Women Voters and would never pull that type of stunt,” said Howard.

In accordance with League policy, Howard was given a few minutes to address the audience at the event. Howard explained his stances on changing the rollout of Common Core, his support for the 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda, campaign finance reform, and the district’s need for infrastructure and broadband improvements.

Ann Kril, Voters Services Chair for the League of Women Voters, said she received an email from Marchione’s campaign Friday afternoon that said she would not attend.

“And I sent them a message back urging them to reconsider with the explanation that the voters in our area were anxious to hear her views, and we would be very disappointed if she could not come in person.”

Kril said she was informed by Marchione’s campaign that the forum in the northern portion of the district was too far for voters in the southern portion to attend. The 43rd District stretches from Saratoga and Washington counties down through Columbia County, south of Albany.

Another debate is scheduled for October 28th in Brunswick, near Troy, in the central part of the district.

Kril says that debate in Rensselaer County would be too far for residents of the northern part of the district, which includes Saratoga Springs.

“It’s really, as she said, too far for our constituents to drive. They’re not going to go that far to see a candidate event. So we’re just very disappointed.”

The 43rd District has been long held by Republicans. The region was previously represented by former State Senator Roy McDonald and longtime Senate Majority leader Joe Bruno.

Marchione’s campaign manager did not return a call and email from WAMC Wednesday morning.

Howard is calling for the next debate to be moved to a larger location.

“The Brunswick town meeting place…is certainly very limited in space. It's not that easy to find," said Howard. "We're going to see if we can find a much larger venue and request that it be moved to that. But of course, we will be there."

Marchione, a former Saratoga County Clerk, is near the end of her first term in office. She rose to the Senate after defeating McDonald in a primary.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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