Seven Democrats hoping to win New York’s 19th Congressional District seat currently held by Republican John Faso debated Thursday afternoon at WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio, the Linda.
The panel were quizzed on their views ranging from the environment to Nancy Pelosi to health care. Their positions overlapped on most issues. The candidates promoted their community roots. Erin Collier is the sole woman running in the primary in the swing district that has drawn national attention. "Colliersville. My ancestors founded that. Very proud of that. And my family's been farming in the district for five generations. My family has been farming in the district for five generations. My parents grew up on dairy farms in the Cooperstown area and I grew up on a farm. We still have our farm in Cooperstown, working farm today. My parents went to Cooperstown High School. I went to Cooperstown High School. I was a Cooperstown Rotary Exchange Student. Nobody can out-root me."
Antonio Delgado, who is from Schenectady, now lives in Dutchess County. His take on health care in America for the most part falls in with that of the other candidates. "We have absolutely got to get the profit motive out of our healthcare system. We ought to treat healthcare like it is the right that it is and it's a travesty that we're the only developed country in the world without universal health care, and that is why it's critical that we must fight dilligently to move towards a system for Medicare for all."
Here's Woodstock's Dave Clegg on Congressman Faso. "He the embodiement of the greed and corruption in our political system. That must stop and it must stop now. I have held people like John Faso accountable my whole career. And if you give me the right to represent you I'll do it now."
All candidates said they would like to see Nancy Pelosi make way for a new face as Democratic House Leader. Here's Ulster County's Gareth Rhodes. "We do need a new generation. We need new ideas. We need a new approach. And I know when our party continues to lose elections because of the battles of the past. I am tired of hearing 'are you a Bernie Democart or a Hillary Democrat.' I'm the kind of Democrat that wants to make change."
Patrick Ryan of Ulster County says Democratic voters have more important concerns than focusing on a hypothetical Speaker election: "We're afraid we're gonna lose our health care. We're ceding our leadership on the environment and standing up against climate change. We're caving in to the gun lobby...families in this district are working two, three, four jobs to make ends meet. Most of the jobs don't even provide health care. Those are the things we need to be talking about."
Jeff Beals from Woodstock says the issue of corporate power needs to be dealt with. "Putting the people back in power of their government. That means breaking up the big banks on Wall Street, it means taking action to enact a federal jobs guarantee, something no one else is advocating. And in the style of FDR, putting people to work toward a massive project in this country to give everybody health care and the work they need as a right."
Brian Flynn is from Greene County: "We've done 24 of these. We've been onstage a lot and people are starting to get their stuff down and you're starting to see there are some subtle distinctions between people."
The question that looms is whether the power of seven can unify behind one — whoever wins the primary.
Again, Flynn. "I think what's important here is that people actually coalesce around an idea, and whoever the candidate ends up being that's fine, but the idea has to be that we're actually fighting for working people."
You can hear the debate HERE.