ALBANY — Republican candidate for state senate in the 44th district, Christopher Davis of Cohoes, announced last month that he is demanding debates with 20-year incumbent, Senator Neil D. Breslin of Bethlehem.
Davis, who said that he believes it is the right of the people to hear from candidates seeking to represent them, has reached out to media outlets and voter organizations to host potential debates but, according to Breslin’s office, has not reached out to the incumbent senator himself.
“We issued an open challenge and multiple outlets have contacted him,” said Davis, who said he would like to debate Breslin on the issues of infrastructure, corruption in state government, energy policy and his position on the Child Victims Act. He also questioned the visibility of the senator in the months leading up to the election. “He feels he doesn’t need to earn our votes. “
“While my opponent lashes out and attacks the media and voter organizations, I will continue to focus on my job which is serving the residents of the 44th Senate District,” responded Breslin in a statement. “I am proud of my work to help make our local communities and New York State a better place to work, go to school and raise a family. Whether it be record increases in education aid, historic investment in our higher education system and helping to enact ethics reform, I have always fought for the issues important to the people of the 44th Senate District.”
“The Senator has been absentee unless it’s to show up and raise taxes,” countered Davis. “It would be funny, but this isn’t a joke. How can someone seek re-election when, in just their last term, roads literally swallowed cars and entire neighborhoods were without water for weeks at a time? Why hasn’t the senator fought for a single penny of money to go into infrastructure? For decades we have known about the woes facing our water lines, roads and bridges. And yet, little to no action. But, our representative is quick to support massive corporate tax breaks and an ever expanding social welfare system that is economically enslaving the masses.”
“Making critical investments in our infrastructure is a key component to a thriving economy,” Breslin told SpotlightNews in an email, “which is why I am proud to have helped secure more than $222 million in state funding since state fiscal year 2011/12 to improve our roads and bridges. Much has been accomplished, but more work needs to be done.”
Davis also said he would like to challenge the longstanding senator about the widespread corruption among his legislative colleagues during his time in office. “Asleep at the wheel?” he asked. “Or complicit? Either way, it’s unacceptable.” Davis said that he would support term limits, which he said would prevent gridlock and the “three-men-in-a-room” power dynamic. He also said he would like to question the senator on his views regarding transparency, asserting that he would have the “most transparent office in state history.”
“As one of only four members of the State Legislature appointed to the New York State Legislative Ethics Commission I hold myself to the highest standard of integrity,” said Breslin. “The commission is tasked with rooting out corruption in government. We have been successful in many of our efforts. This cannot happen without meaningful ethics reform, which we have been able to enact over the past number of years. In fact, I was the first member of the legislature to sponsor a bill to require public officials to forfeit their pension if they are convicted of a felony.” The senator added that “meaningful” campaign finance reform would also be a useful tool in stemming political corruption.
On energy, Davis criticized how National Grid is allowed to have a monopoly in the area, saying that the company disproportionately levies fees against lower- and middle-income residents.
Breslin said that he supports a number of programs designed to lower energy bills.
“Programs such as EmPower New York, Home Performance with Energy Star, Advanced Buildings Program, and the Solar Electric Program (NY-Sun),” he said, “are all designed to increase our energy savings also while also increasing our reliance on renewable energy.”
Davis characterized the state’s home energy assistance program as “extreme corporate welfare” for companies like National Grid, saying that they continue to charge “exhorbitant delivery fees” while benefiting from taxpayer money through the state programs. “If these fees were cut severely,” he said, ”there would be no need for such a program, saving taxpayers money. In fact, it would save everyone money. “
Finally, Davis said he would like to ask, “Why has the senator opposed for decades the comprehensive Child Victim Act? This would allow a child who as abused sexually that has proof come forward as an adult and face their accuser. Currently NYS has among the narrowest statute of limitations in the country. It’s wrong. We’re a progressive state, but backwards on this issue.”
“Unfortunately during this past legislative session the Senate Republican majority blocked multiple efforts to find an agreeable solution,” said Breslin, who voted with his party to bring the bill to the floor for a vote despite voicing reservations about aspects of the bill. “In addition to the Child Victims Act sponsored by my friend and colleague Senator Brad Hoylman, there were numerous other iterations that were also introduced attempting to provide justice to victims of these heinous crimes. I look forward to working with advocates, victims and my colleagues in the Legislature on both sides of the aisle with the hope of finding a solution that is satisfactory to all parties.
Breslin’s office has not outright refused to debate Davis, but claims he has not reached out to the senator himself to ask for one.
“I’ve been making the rounds on this issue,” was Davis’ reply. “They shouldn’t be acting surprised by this and demanding I come up and kiss the ring. The challenge is official.”