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Candidates For New York's 43rd Senate District Spar At Forum

Democrat Aaron Gladd and Republican Daphne Jordan
Lucas Willard

Candidates for New York’s 43rd state Senate District appeared at a voter forum in Saratoga County Monday evening.

Democrat Aaron Gladd and Republican Daphne Jordan met for a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County at Schuylerville Town Hall.

All questions were posed by the public, and the candidates took the opportunity to cast themselves as ideological opposites.

Jordan, a Halfmoon councilwoman and former aide to retiring Republican state Senator Kathy Marchione, attacked Gladd, a former aide to Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Thank you to the League of Women Voters for sponsoring tonight’s forum and to Aaron ‘Cuomo’ for being here…Oh...sorry.”

Gladd, a combat veteran who also worked for the late Republican state Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libbous, cast himself as an independent voice for the largely rural and suburban district, which stretches from Warren County to Columbia County.

“And we need independent people who can stand up for us. Because the politics has gotten so extreme lately, that it’s cast everybody to the left or the right. Where are the people in the middle? There’s not a lot of us left.”

A high school student asked the hopefuls to explain their view of how the Constitution should be interpreted.

Gladd said he is wary of political justices.

“I don’t feel comfortable when justices interpret laws. It makes me nervous because judges are political appointees.”

Jordan said she believes laws to be “more set.”

“If they change too much then we’re going to become a socialist country.”

On the issues, Gladd continued to cast himself as a moderate while Jordan stuck to a conservative narrative.

Regarding gun laws, Gladd called Governor Cuomo’s SAFE Act “flawed” but said he wants both strong background checks and tax breaks for gun owners with safes and trigger locks.

“There are more reasonable and responsible gun owners in this district than any other district, and they need a voice too. I’m going to be their voice.”

Republicans, who have run the Senate in a power-sharing arrangement with breakaway Democrats, risk losing control of the Senate on Election Day. Jordan laid out a hypothetical scenario she envisions should Democrats retake the majority.

“There will be a SAFE Act Two, a Three, and a Four. And the choice is very clear on this issue, it is a Second Amendment issue.”

Jordan also projected on healthcare. While she said she would be open to “some form” of healthcare reform, she opposes a single-payer system.

“Hospitals would be overrun with patients that they can’t have, we’d have people moving into state for the free healthcare that’s paid by the taxpayers…”

Using Jordan’s talking point, Gladd said “nobody” is trying to pass a single-payer system that would raise taxes 152 percent. The fiscally conservative Empire Center estimates a single-payer system in New York would require an additional $139 billion in tax revenue.

“That’s not going to happen. What we need is an independent, upstate fighter who is going to sit down with local businesses, small businesses, insurance companies, everybody to sit down at the table because it is a crisis,” said Gladd.

Jordan frequently mentioned high property taxes as being a major problem in New York. Describing herself as a homeowner with three decades of taxpaying experience, she tried to diminish Gladd’s presence in the district. Gladd, who rents, has resided in the 43rd for three years.

The candidates’ rhetoric mirrored national political fault lines: In describing children of foreigners seeking college tuition assistance, Jordan labeled them “illegal aliens.” Gladd said he would stand up for “undocumented” kids.

Listen to audio of the entire forum with Democrat Aaron Gladd and Republican Daphne Jordan

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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