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Reed, Shinagawa debate fracking, job creation

    GENEVA—Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) and Democratic challenger Nate Shinagawa argued their specific viewpoints on issues including hydraulic fracturing, gas prices, jobs, and gun control, during a debate held at Hobart and William Smith Colleges Friday, Oct. 26. The two are running for the 23rd Congressional District seat.
    One of the main issues addressed during the debate was each candidate’s stance on the potential of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the Finger Lakes region and what each candidate would do to protect the water and environment of the lakes.
    Shinagawa said Reed is against having oversight by the Environmental Protection Agency when it comes to fracking and that it would not be a long-term solution to the state’s economic problems. He said areas that do have fracking operations often experience a “boom and a bust cycle” and that fracking can’t be part of the future for the district because it directly affects small business and would devastate the region.
    “We need to invest in what we are good at in New York state, which is industry, agriculture and tourism,” Shinagawa said. “Fracking would harm tourism and industry in New York state.”
    Shinagawa also said he has worked to fight invasive species like hydrilla in the Finger Lakes region, saying its spread to the Great Lakes could have an even greater impact. He said the federal government has a role to play in helping the communities battling it so they do not have to pay the costs of fighting it alone.
    Reed replied saying there should be a regional approach to the issue, and that he is “not opposed to exempting the Finger Lakes watershed.” He said the issue can best be determined at the state and local level by looking at each region geographically to see what would be the best course of action for each area.
    “The government closest to the people governs best,” Reed said. “Let them make those decisions that are in their parameters.”
    Reed also said President Barack Obama supports natural gas development, and that it represents a form of power for manufacturers. Reed said the cheap utility rates from it would allow American manufacturers to be competitive on the world market.
    In his opening statement, Shinagawa said he has served on the Tompkins County Legislature for more than six years, currently as its vice-chairman, and how he wants to make things more efficient in Washington, D.C. while cutting costs. He said Reed has adopted policies during his time as congressman that have sent local jobs overseas, and that his opponent is looking out for the best interests of big corporations rather than the middle class.
    “I don’t think this is the right course for our future,” Shinagawa said. “I want to put something forward that helps the middle class.”
    During Reed’s opening statement, he said he plans to have a great conversation on the future of America. He said he will focus on promoting “a strong and vibrant private sector” in his vision for America moving forward. Reed said Shinagawa is instead interested in promoting a strong public sector.
    “I believe in individuals, in the private sector,” Reed said. “If we do not get people working...we will not get out of this hole.”
    Another question addressed the government’s role in monitoring gas prices. Reed replied the government needs to work toward lowering prices by taking advantage of the energy opportunities domestically to help stabilize the market and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
    Shinagawa proceeded to attack his opponent’s credibility, saying if Reed truly cared about gas prices in this country, he would have signed a bill saying the nation would keep any oil and natural gas produced for domestic use. Instead, Shinagawa said Reed would sell domestic gas around the world, which would only make the corporations more profitable. He said instead, the nation should focus more on long-term renewable energy sources.
    When asked why the congressional approval rating is at historic lows, Shinagawa said it is because they have not been able to do much to get the economy turned around.
    “The problem that exists right now in Washington is they go in and see each other as enemies and not colleagues,” Shinagawa said. “We need to stay in governance mode and not fighting and campaign mode.”
    Reed said he agrees there needs to be a change in “culture and tone” in Washington D.C. and that he has worked in bipartisan coalitions during his time in congress.
    “It is frustrating to see that bickering and not the give-and-take that we need,” Reed said.
The last question of the debate was where each candidate differed from their party lines.
    Shinagawa said he had differing views on gun control, saying he knows “a lot of very responsible gun owners in our district.” He said the gun laws in place should be enforced, but there is no need for more of them. He also said he has attended several events hosted by fish and game clubs where he talked to members, even shooting 17 for 25 during one particular trap-shooting event.
    Reed then attacked his opponent’s record, saying how Shinagawa recently voted against rifle hunting in Tompkins County, and that his opponent is not being consistent. He went on to say he differs from his party lines by strongly advocating STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs.
    “That is a critical piece to our future,” Reed said. “We need to embrace it wholeheartedly. Manufacturers are losing that skill set to have a manufacturing renaissance in America.”
    In the closing statements, Shinagawa said congress needs to work on jobs, giving incentives to bring jobs home and investing in new technology that can be developed in the district.
    “We should not only do research and development here, but we need to build it here,” Shinagawa said.
He also said congress needs to actually protect Medicare and social security programs in the long run, get out of Afghanistan and “actually ask wealthy Americans in this country to pay their fair share in taxes.”
    Reed said he “firmly believes in the private sector” in his closing statements. He added education is key to success moving forward in order to strengthen America for generations and that it needs a strong and vibrant private sector based economy again. Reed explained it is the role of the government to provide the opportunity for everyone to succeed on his or her own merit.
    “If we are going to be honest about the situation, we have got to look at this problem long-term by getting together and coming up with solutions,” Reed said.
    The debate, moderated by political science Professor Iva Deutchman, gave each candidate two minutes to respond to questions with the option for a 30 second rebuttal after their opponent finished speaking. Deutchman said all the questions asked at the debate were written by students and faculty members at Hobart and William Smith.

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