The five Democratic candidates running in New York’s 21st Congressional district primary were at the Mountain Lake PBS studio this week to tape a debate that will air tonight at 8.
Five Democrats are running to challenge two-term Republican Elise Stefanik to represent New York’s largest geographic Congressional district, which runs from just north of the Capital District to the Canadian border and from the St. Lawrence River east to Lake Champlain. Tedra Cobb, Emily Martz, Patrick Nelson, Dylan Ratigan and Katie Wilson took questions at the public television station in Plattsburgh.
Sun Community News Editor Pete DeMola posed a question about the historic meeting between the U.S. and North Korea, which brought scathing criticism from Ratigan. “What concessions should be completely off the table?”
Host Thom Hallock: “Mr. Ratigan.”
Ratigan: “This is political theatre between two deeply egotistical megalomaniacal world leaders. One is the President of the United States. One is the dictator of North Korea.”
North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann noted that most Democratic voters in the district are angry or frightened about the Trump presidency. “Given what you know right now about President Trump’s activities before and after his election in 2016, again what you know right now, would you vote articles of impeachment against him?”
Cobb is among the majority of the candidates who want to wait for the Mueller investigation to conclude. “We must allow Robert Mueller to complete his investigation unmolested. And if he finds that the President has committed high crimes and misdemeanors then at that time I would vote for the articles of impeachment but only then.”
The candidates were asked if the gubernatorial primary were held today whether they would vote for incumbent Andrew Cuomo or Cynthia Nixon. Only Patrick Nelson clearly supported Nixon. Cobb says Nixon lacks clear policies for upstate and the North Country. “Unfortunately Ms. Nixon does not have enough information on her website to give me any background. I know that she’s progressive so I think we share values. But in terms of a platform, in terms of a stance, in terms of what she will accomplish I think she’s light on that.”
The most intense discussion of the evening occurred over cryptocurrency mining operations in the region.
Hallock: “Mr. Nelson this next question is coming to you from Pete DeMola.”
DeMola: “What role should the federal government have in regulating mining in the blockchain technology as it pertains to the concerns of local officials?”
Nelson: “We need to have a system that is fair to the communities but we also need to have one that isn’t restrictive of this new potentially transformational technology.”
Hallock: “Mr. Ratigan.”
Ratigan: “The reason these cryptocurrencies even exist is because we so severely discredited and debased our own currency the U.S. dollar that it led to this idea of creating an invented currency.”
Hallock: “Thank you. Ms Martz.”
Martz: “Cryptocurrency companies are predatory companies and they look for small rural areas like ours to take advantage of.”
Hallock: “Okay Mr. Nelson a rebuttal.”
Nelson: “If we call these companies predatory and we shut down the opportunities for innovation other nations and other communities will benefit from this innovation and this economic development.”
Hallock: “Ms Martz.”
Martz: “We need to be calling these companies what they are and they are predatory. And by doing that we are doing other communities around the nation a favor by letting them know ahead of time watch out.”
Hallock: “Ms. Wilson.”
Wilson: “Why should we be reacting out of fear instead of using this as an opportunity to innovate?”
Several members of the audience had a chance to ask the candidates questions. “I’m Leonard Moore. I’m from Plattsburgh. If you have the opportunity as a representative in Congress to address the issue of voting rights what would you do?”
Hallock: “Thank you. Miss Cobb.”
Cobb: “We are at a crossroads. It’s about access to the polls. It’s about cybersecurity, making sure that our rolls are not purged and it’s about making sure that the states are not suppressing the vote. The federal government must lead and ensure that every person has a right to vote.”
The primary is Tuesday, June 26th.