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The forum with an empty seat - Updated

Edward Gilbert and Roy McDonald showed for the forum, Kathleen Marchione sent a statement.

Edward Gilbert and Roy McDonald showed for the forum, Kathleen Marchione sent a statement. Photo by Julie Cushine-Rigg.

General agreement on the issues

Both candidates then took questions from an audience of about70. They agreed on issues including support of veteran services, education and job creation.

There were no issues the two were divided on and the forum proceeded in a very amicable manner, though on more than one occasion, McDonald pointed to the importance of participation in government. In clear reference to Marchione’s absence he said, “Shame on you” to those who choose not to participate in government.

Gilbert was the first to respond to a question about what the candidates plan on doing to help the nation’s veterans. He said he personally supports veterans whenever he can, but politically there is no one particular thing he could speak to given that he hasn’t been involved with politics for very long. He did however, talk about programs and grants available to veterans.

“Part of what I do is to help process those programs. We also do outreach to make sure that veterans are aware of what’s available to them,” said Gilbert.

He added before some of the first soldiers were sent to war after the 9/11 attacks, he went to National Guard posts to talk with soldiers who were pulled from college to face combat about managing their student loans. He also said that veterans deserve a lot more than they get now.

McDonald talked about his accomplishments regarding veteran’s issues such as the Patriot Plans that authorized veteran tax exemptions when returning from active duty. Most recently, he has been involved as the chairman of Senate Mental Health and Disabilities Committee.

The candidates were asked about the Saratoga County nursing home, and McDonald noted New York is one of two states in the country that require county governments to pay Medicaid. Maplewood Manor has been losing millions of dollars for years, in part because of Medicaid reimbursement rates and state mandates.

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