Tonight the 2 candidates for the Republican ticket for the 126th seat in the New Yortk State Assembly was held in Binghamton, New York. The debate took place at the Boys and Girls Club, starting at 7:00pm and finishing around 8:30pm. The two candidates were Art Garrison and Jason Stokes. [Both candidates have been interviewed by Michael Vass previously]
The debate was attended by a small crowd with ages ranging from the teens to mid-60′s. In addition there was representation by Fox 40 (the only one to stay to the end of the event besides Mr. Vass) and Action 12 television news. 1 member of the crowd mentioned that the Press & Sun newspaper also had a reporter at the event – who arrived late and left early – but that cannot be confirmed by Mr. Vass.
Prior to the Republican debate, Tim “T.R.” Roberts, candidate for Broome County Sheriff, spoke to the crowd. T.R. Roberts was there to debate Gary O’Neil also a candidate for Sheriff. O’Neil did not show due to a previously announced fundraising event (which has not been confirmed at this time). [Video of Tim Roberts at the event can be found here] Also at the event as a listner was Sheriff David Harder, who did speak breifly before the crowd.
The debate was almost uniformly cordial, with each of the candidates complimenting portions of the others platform at various points over the course of the 10 questions asked. There was also several questions where the candidates directly diverged from the positions of the other. Certain points were vigorously countered. The questions covered the State budget, jobs in Upstate NY, education, term limits, and several other issues pertinent to the 126th Assembly seat.
The moderator of the event was Mr. Ray Schaffer, a former Democratic candidate for the Broome County Sheriff. Questions were limited to 2 minutes each with 1 minute given to rebutt. The order of the questions rotated between the candidates.
[Video of the entire debate can be found here]
Art Garrison is the elder of the candidates, and a small business owner. He voiced very strong views on changing the lopsided balance of power in the State Assembly, proposed ideas to encourage business growth in Upstate New York, gas drilling, and the wisdom that experience provides.
Jason Stokes is the younger of the 2 candidates, and a fireman. He spoke about several expansive plans that he has detailed online covering his views on campaign reform, reducing the State budget via an incentive program, revamping the education system, and encouraging more citizens to enter politics.
One of the biggest differences between the 2 men definitely is in their view of term limits. Art Garrison is in favor of term limits, Jason Stokes is against the idea. Both made reasonable points about the benefit and detraction of the concept.
The crowd was very intense in that they were actively listening to the men and their positions. The serious tone was not overbearing, but a polite and determined one.
There really isn’t much more to say, as the video of the event conveys far better the relaxed yet confident stance both men held, and the points of emphasis each discussed over the debate. One thing that is clear is that no matter which candidate wins the Primary, Assemblywoman Lupardo is definitely going to be facing an opponent that is crystal clear in the objectives they want to attain and the errors in State Assembly they wish to correct.
The event was sponsored by the Souther Tier Tea Party.