Democratic congressional contenders Jon Powers and Alice Kryzan faced off in a debate yesterday, and Mark Gillespie put together a fine, if lengthy, article on the showdown for the Daily News. Powers and Kryzan met in Geneseo to present their platforms. Fellow Democrat Jack Davis, Republican Chris Lee and Independent Anthony Fumerelle, all of whom were invited to attend, skipped out on the debate. All five candidates are vying for the soon-to-be open seat to represent the 26th Congressional District.
Davis announced last week that he would not join any debates with candidates who did not pledge to turn down special interest money and a five-point pledge to preserve Social Security—a decision roundly criticized in the media from Niagara Falls to Rochester.
Kryzan, "a retired environmental lawyer," took the opportunity to go on the offensive. She criticized Powers for accepting special interest money, claiming that she was the only Democratic candidate that had not taken any money from special interest groups. (It seems each candidate is making the claim not to be taking special interest money while accusing the other two of doing just that.)
Powers countered that the groups that have been supporting him are unions that have members in this district.
Kryzan repeated her charges, including an accusation that Powers has accepted money from a defense contractor—at which point an audience member shouted "Lay off it, already!"
(I wonder if that was our very own Russ Stresing.)
Powers did not shy from getting in a jab at the absent Davis—who refused to shake hands with Powers at a parade in Clarence Monday. "He isn't here tonight to address the challenges facing America's middle class workers," he said of Davis in his closing remarks.
Both candidates repeatedly cited their strengths—Powers as a former army captain, Kryzan's experience in law—but when it came down to the questions, they gave most of the same answers. Both support incentives for small businesses to help them better compete with national retail firms—who would say no to that. Both support renewable energy. Both vow to bring the federal funds home. Both oppose a constitutional ban on gay marriage and drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
Where they differed most is in the relationship of a U.S. representative to his or her constituents.
Powers spoke of fostering national service programs such as Americorps, the Peace Corps, and similar programs for teachers and nurses to service inner city and poor rural areas. He specifically cited a nursing shortage in Dansville.
Kryzan said she would focus more on developing projects that would more directly benefit the 26th District.
All in all, fine coverage from Gillespie.