CAPITAL DISTRICT A crowded field of Democratic candidates for the 109th Assembly District made efforts to differentiate their positions to voters one week before a primary that will see most of their bids ended.
The League of Women Voters, Spotlight Newspapers and other community organizations hosted at forum event on Thursday, Sept. 6, at Albany Law School to hear from candidates in both the upcoming Democratic and Independence primaries. There are six Democrats vying for the seat soon to be vacated by longtime Assemblyman Jack McEneny: Frank Commisso Jr., Patricia Fahy, Christopher Higgins, William McCarthy, Margarita Perez and Jim Coyne. Ted Danz, the Republican nominee, and Fahy are also fighting for the Independence line.
The newly redrawn district encompasses the southwestern parts of the City of Albany and the towns of Guilderland, New Scotland and Bethlehem.
The crowded race meant few questions were asked at the hour-long discussion, but queries were sourced from the audience. Most candidates had similar points of view on issues like hydraulic fracturing, property tax relief and the need to stop unfunded mandates.
“I think we should call for a flat-out ban on hydrofracking in the State of New York,” said Higgins. “I think it’s bad for business, I think it’s bad for our economy and I think it’s bad for our environment.”
Other Democrats said they oppose the method of natural gas extraction until more research has been made available, while Danz said he is in favor of home rule and would vote in line with his constituents. Coyne said the issue should be put up for a voter referendum.
On the issue of tax relief, all the candidates agreed something must be done but pitched different ideas for providing it.
McCarthy said the 2 percent tax cap passed this year by the state was a good first step, but reducing unfunded mandates was key. He also agreed with Commisso that Medicaid reform was needed and it should no longer be the responsibility of local governments.