posted on May 17, 2011 14:31
One week from the special election to replace former Congressman Chris Lee, candidates in the race for New York's 26th congressional district appeared in Batavia.
A meet-and-greet was held at the YWCA, hosted by Independent Living of Genesee. All four candidates were invited to attend in a one-by-one, Q & A format.
Republican candidate Jane Corwin showed up first, speaking to a small crowd of locals and Independent Living personnel. Corwin introduced herself, and was immediately peppered by questions from a Batavia mother and primary care worker. The woman asked how Corwin would help disadvantaged and handicapped children (such as autistics) gain the proper help and services in New York's public schools, at a time when the fed is slashing funding in that sector.
Corwin pointed out that she has a son who needed speech therapy treatments at a young age. "So I had the opportunity to see, from the inside, how the system works," she said.
"At the state level, I've been very supportive of expanding autism services," Corwin said, referring to her seat in the State Assembly. "The biggest problem I see is that our laws have not kept up with what's happening in society. Autism is growing exponentially."
With respect to skyrocketing college tuition and the decrease of federal grant programs, as well as aging infrastructure – Corwin blames big government spending.
"We're not spending our money efficiently. We borrow more and more, and now we're spending more on interest payments," she said. "So programs like PELL (federal college grant program) end up falling by the wayside, because we can't afford it anymore.
Corwin called on her Assembly experience to address infrastructure concerns. "The vast majority of the money in the New York State Bridge and Road Reconstruction Fund is actually going towards debt payments," she claimed. "Again, that gets back down to the fact that we're spending too much money, putting too much money towards interest payments."
Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul spoke second at the event. She reiterated her support for preserving Medicare.
"I will not support a program that breaks the contract we've had with our seniors since 1965," Hochul guaranteed the audience. She was referring to Congressman Paul Ryan's 2012-2013 budget proposal which would alter Medicare from it's current state for those under 55-years-old.
Hochul did acknowledge that Medicare is wrought with overspending and waste.
"How do you fix it?," she asked. "First of all: there are huge underlying costs of healthcare. We've got to get our arms around that." Hochul proposed leveraging the cost of prescription drugs by buying in bulk, and having government negotiate for cheaper generic-brand drugs for seniors.
Responding to a question about Genesee County’s aging infrastructure – Hochul took on an international focus.
"I'm going to go out on a limb: we are probably spending more to help roads in Pakistan...than we are spending on roads in Genesee County," she said.
"I'm starting to say, 'wait a minute, why are we spending so much money to build up other countries who aren't our friends," she continued, "when I personally want that money back here taking care of infrastructure in our districts?"
Green Party candidate Ian Murphy was late for today’s event. Independent candidate Jack Davis apparently had an undisclosed emergency situation at the plant he owns in Akron, and sent a representative.
NOTE: It was later learned that Murphy failed to show up.
The election is next Tuesday, May 24th.