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Candidates discuss stances on budget, fracking   ADVERTISEMENT

Candidates discuss stances on budget, fracking

WATKINS GLEN—More than 60 residents came out to hear the candidates for the Schuyler County Legislature discuss their stances on important county issues during a “Meet the Candidates Night” sponsored by the Schuyler County League of Women Voters Wednesday, Oct. 16 in the Watkins Glen elementary auditorium.
Judy Phillips moderated the debate, allowing the candidates of each of the four legislative districts to make a three-minute opening statement before answering three questions from audience members. The candidates were also allowed to make a brief closing statement at the end of the question period.
The debate opened with the candidates vying for one position in District 1. Incumbent Barbara Halpin (R) and challenger Michael Burns (D) took the stage to answer questions posed by the audience.
The candidates were asked if they supported a legislative limit to three consecutive terms, to which both candidates replied, “absolutely.”
When asked about making cuts to the budget, Burns said he is more concerned with raising the tax base as a whole, saying “cutting is not a policy, cutting is a reaction.” Halpin said since she has been on the legislature, they have managed to decrease spending by $2 million while maintaining the same programs.
Incumbent Glenn Larison (Listening Party) was unable to attend the meeting due to a prior commitment. Phillips read a statement he had issued for the debate, saying he seeks to continue working on budgets that are transparent and he supports the continued growth of local business.
For District 2, the candidates included  Shirley Barton (D) and Van Harp (R).
Barton and Harp were asked if they support moving some of the legislative committee meetings to the evening when more people are able to attend. Barton said it would make more people feel welcome to participate in the meetings, while Harp agreed it was a good initiative that would help promote democracy.
When asked about Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, Harp said he strongly believes it should be repealed and that the state did not listen to the citizens of New York when passing that legislation. Barton said having dealt with mentally ill people, she would not like to see a gun in their hands, but added she doesn’t know what more the Schuyler County Legislature could do about the issue.
Candidates Michael Lausell (D) and John White (R) are both running for one open spot in District 3. They were asked their stances on the proposed LPG storage facility in Reading during the debate. Lausell said there are “serious questions” that need to be answered about it first, adding Schuyler should not allow industry to move in who will not share their data. He said the proposed addition of eight to 10 new jobs would not be a significant addition to the community with all the dangers it could pose.
White said he would trust the workers to conduct a conclusive study and run the facility properly. He added, “Eight jobs are eight more than what we currently have.”
Legislative District 4 candidates consist of James Howell Jr. (R) and Paul Cartwright (D).
When asked about their stance on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Cartwright said there are two ways to look at fracking—horizontal and vertical. He said vertical fracking has been “going on forever” and he supports it, but when companies start going horizontal, that is when they run into problems. He said he does not support horizontal fracking.
Howell said he is puzzled as to what role the Schuyler Legislature would have in deciding if fracking comes to New York. He said if the state finds it safe “I am not going to parade up and down the street with a sandwich board on my back or walk around the lake with a bucket of water in my hand.”
All nine legislative candidates are up for election in the Nov. 5 general election.




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