Candidates discuss health care, spending
BENTON—Six candidates; Tom Reed, Matt Zeller, Jim Bacalles, Tom O’Mara, Greg Edwards, and Jay Townsend, spoke to about 50 voters at the most recent Finger Lakes Tea Party Meet the Candidates night, Thursday, Aug. 26.
The event was held at the Benton fire hall. Speaking first were Reed and Zeller, both candidates for the 29th Congressional district. As a Democrat, Zeller was asked specifically for his opinion on health care.
Zeller responded he would not have voted for it, because there is already too much debt. However, he said he agrees with parts of it and thinks it should be amended rather than repealed. Zeller explained he agreed with four parts of the health care reform:
• Insurance companies not being able to deny someone due to preexisting conditions.
• Not being able to revoke someone’s insurance when an unknown, preexisting condition is discovered.
• Extending coverage from a parent’s insurance for people until age 26.
• Closing the coverage gap for seniors.
Reed also said he disagreed with the reform, but that it should be repealed. He said, “it is wrong.” When asked how it could just be amended, Zeller said there are four years until it goes into affect to look at it and see where to best make amendments.
Both candidates were asked about their stance on immigration and Arizona. Zeller said the borders need to be secured, but farmers who use legal migrant workers should not be negatively affected. He added the federal government should enforce it, otherwise there will be different rules at the border for each state.
Reed said it was clear the federal government wasn’t doing its job, so Arizona passed its own legislation. He said the 10th Amendment allows the state to defend itself. Reed added he supported legal immigration, because the founding father were themselves immigrants. Both candidates said they were not in favor of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.
When asked about how each would stop the government from exceeding its constitutional powers, Reed said he would “put a spotlight” on what the government was doing so everyone would see it. He added he has joined a coalition of other candidates, called the Freshmen 50 Candidates, promising to stand together if elected.
Zeller said he would only approve laws if the government could point out where in constitution the government has the power to do that. He added people’s votes are the most important power. Zeller also said people should get their children involved and educated on the topics.
Townsend is running against Chuck Schumer for his senate seat. He said people have had “too many years with this congress, with this president.” He explained he is running against Schumer because “he is dangerous.”
Townsend also said he wants the health care reform repealed. When asked about the Environmental Protection Agency, he said it needs to be brought under control. He explained if the U.S. senate were under Republican control, they would have some leverage against the EPA.
To a question about hydrofracking, he said he was for it, as long as it’s not a danger to people and the water.
“It’s there, if it’s safe, let’s do this,” he said.
Townsend was also asked about his position on the proposed Islamic cultural center in New York City. He said it’s not about religious freedom, but “about taste.” He added he was one of the first to say he was against it.
Edwards is running for lieutenant governor, with Rick Lazio for governor.
He was asked about unfunded mandates. Edwards said changes to the state Medicaid would save money. He suggested implementing residency requirements so people from out of state can’t take advantage of it. He added people receiving Medicaid should be required to work if capable.
Bacalles and O’Mara were the final speakers for the evening. Both are running for 53rd state senate district. When asked how each would fight against the Democrats in power, O’Mara said a gridlock may very well be needed.
“I’d like to see how fast (the senate) would come together if (the state) shut down for a day or two,” he said.
Bacalles said term limits for the leader positions are an option.