[Ariél Zangla | October 25, 2016 | Daily Freeman]
WOODSTOCK, N.Y. >> Congressional candidates John Faso and Zephyr Teachout fielded a wide-range of questions that covered topics from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to the proposed Hudson River anchorages during a debate Monday, but also managed to reiterate their oft-repeated criticisms of one another.
The candidates for the 19th Congressional District met at the Woodstock Playhouse for a debate hosted by Time Warner Cable News. During the hour-long debate, Faso, a Republican, and Teachout, a Democrat, hit on their major platform points while discussing topics that included the Trans-Pacific Partnership, regulation of the financial services industry, property taxes, Hudson River anchorages, and infrastructure.
On some points, such as the water contamination issue in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., and Petersburgh, N.Y., both candidates felt the companies responsible should be made to clean up the problem and that there should be monitoring of residents’ health going forward.
On many topics, though, the candidates who are seeking to replace U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, diverged in opinion.
“I think that Ms. Teachout, again, fails to understand the lessons of history,” Faso said in response to his opponent’s position. He said it is vitally important to American companies that they be able to export their products. Faso said Teachout places the blame for loss of American manufacturing on trade, but many experts have said it is due to automation and productivity.
Teachout said anyone traveling through local communities can see devastation that is the result of the loss of manufacturing.
“And there are political elites who believe the trade deals of the last 30 years have helped Americans,” Teachout said. “Some of those political elites are big, big donors to my opponent.”
Throughout the debate, Faso and Teachout traded jabs while fielding the moderators’ questions.
Faso has repeatedly characterized Teachout as a carpetbagger whose ideas are unrealistic and out of touch with the 19th Congressional District, while Teachout has repeatedly characterized Faso as a career politician and lobbyist who is beholden to his campaign donors.
Faso, a former state assemblyman, has lived in the district for decades, while Teachout, a law professor at Fordham University, moved there just before launching her campaign. Her name is not unfamiliar to district residents, though, thanks to her Democratic primary election challenge to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014.
Faso has also unsuccessfully run for governor in 2006, when he was defeated by Eliot Spitzer, and state comptroller in 2002, when he was defeated by Alan Hevesi.
Teachout, as she has said previously, promised to be an independent voice in Congress who could not be bought.
Faso said he is motivated by a defense of the Constitution, of the rule of law, of limited government and of free enterprise.
On the issue of property taxes, Teachout said the state tax cap does not go far enough to relieve the burden on taxpayers, but also takes away local control.
Faso said he favors a plan in which the state would no longer impose its Medicaid costs on New York’s counties and New York City, which would reduce the local tax burden.
Perhaps the most telling questions of the evening were posed by the candidates themselves.
Teachout asked Faso if he agreed with presidential candidate Donald Trump that the next Supreme Court justices should roll back the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion.
“I think Roe v. Wade is the law of the land,” Faso said. “It is something that, if I am honored to be elected, I’ve sworn to uphold the law of the land.” He added, though, that he does not support taxpayer funding for abortions.
In his question to Teachout, Faso said there are many historic sites and parks in the district and he asked which was her favorite.
“By far my favorite, it’s a place I go very often, is the Dover Stone Church,” Teachout said. She added that if Faso had never been, he should go because it is “heaven.”
The full debate can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/2epzf78.
The two candidates will debate again beginning at 7 p.m., Thursday at Congregation Emanuel, 243 Albany Ave., in the city of Kingston.
The 19th Congressional District includes all of Ulster, Greene and Columbia counties, most of Dutchess County and some or all of seven other counties.