The two candidates running to replace retiring long-time state Senator Betty Little in New York’s 45th district debated at Mountain Lake PBS this week.
Republican Dan Stec, currently the 114th district state Assemblyman, and Clinton County Treasurer Democrat Kimberly Davis occasionally agreed but for the most part offered definitive contrasts throughout the hour.
Plattsburgh Press-Republican Editor-in-Chief Joe LoTemplio directed the first question on potential pandemic state deficits to Stec. “Are there specific areas where you think spending could be cut to reduce the deficit and offset deeper cuts in state aid to schools and municipalities?”
Stec: “Certainly there are some things that are absolutely off the table for me: education, our disabled population. Those are two right off the bat that I don’t think we should be looking to cut at all. I also don’t think that we should be raising taxes. We have billions of dollars that we spend in Medicaid that is wasted in the billions of dollars a year. That’s the first place to tighten down.”
Moderator Thom Hallock: “Thank you. Miss Davis.”
Davis: “We certainly need to make cuts for anything that is not a non-essential service. Our millionaires and billionaires are where I’m looking to raise taxes not on low and middle income families. There is a scare tactic that is going on that New York will lose the millionaires and billionaires. That isn’t true.”
Davis joined Stec in criticizing the state’s new bail reform laws. “The original bail reform I would not have voted for. The second stab at it did fix some of the issues but judges need more discretion. There’s just too much that needs to be fixed with this and I will let Mr. Stec go.”
Dan Stec: “I voted against it. The law enforcement community and the criminal justice community in general, your district attorneys and the court system, were not consulted in the drafting of the fixes or of the initial bail reform. Now we’ve come a long way in fixing some of that but the bottom line is is that the judiciary still does not have the discretion that I think most voters want their judges to have.”
The candidates argued briefly over police defunding. “My opponent sought and accepted the Working Parties Party line and part of the Working Families Party’s platform is a call to defund the police. I reject the idea of defunding the police.”
Thom Hallock: “Miss Davis.”
Democrat Kimberly Davis: “So Mr. Stec put on his Facebook page that I sought the Working Families Party endorsement knowing that they wanted to defund the police. He knows that that is not true. I don’t believe in defunding the police.”
Republican Dan Stec: “I’ve been endorsed by dozens of police agencies and they stand with me.”
Davis: “You don’t hold the monopoly on that.”
Stec and Davis agreed that the state Health Department should release COVID-related nursing home death data and that there should also be an independent investigation. “We need to release these numbers so that we know exactly what happened. Now 7,000 deaths I think commands that we investigate and see what happens if for no other reason to make sure that we don’t make repeat the mistakes in the future.”
Hallock: “Thank you, Miss Davis.”
Davis: “The short answer as well is I agree.”
Overcrowding by hikers in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks was the focus of a question from Adirondack Daily Enterprise Staff Writer Aaron Cerbone. “Should the state start issuing parking and hiking permits to ease overcrowding and overuse on the most popular trails?”
Moderator Hallock: “Miss Davis we begin with you.”
Kimberly Davis: “A permitting system certainly is a easy solution for this problem and we certainly need to also look at longer term solutions.”
Hallock: “Thank you. Mr. Stec.”
Dan Stec: “I am a 46er so I know firsthand the trails their conditions, the parking issues. I’m with Commissioner Seggos on this. A permitting system it’s premature. There’s other steps intermediate to that that need to be executed and tried first.”
Audio is courtesy of Mountain Lake PBS. The debate debuts at 8 p.m. tonight and will be available online at the same time.