Candidates for the various regional offices that serve New Castle gathered recently for a forum to discuss their positions.
The Oct. 26 forum, held by the League of Women Voters, was for three elections ( to state Senate, state Assembly and U.S. House of Representatives) attracted some or all of the candidates. Here's an overview:
Democratic incumbent Nita Lowey did not attend the event, but present were her challengers, Republican Joe Carvin and independent candidate Frank Morgenthaler.
Morgenthaler, who is running as a more conversative alternative to Carvin, worried about the country's future, particularly with regards to protection of the first and second amendments to the constitution.
“It's headed in a very, very dangerous direction.” The candidate also worried about high levels of federal spending, feels that President Barack Obama does not have a good energy policy and that America has turned it back on Israel.
“We need more common sense in Congress. I believe I can provide it.”
Carvin, who is Rye Town Supervisor, described a bleak economic situation for Americans and for the country's fiscal future.
“The middle class is being crushed," he said. Carvin noted that the federal government does not have an external auditor, and that its internal one has not given a clean opinion (which is a good finding) for roughly a decade.
Both candidates support tax reform that involves simplifying the tax code.
The two challengers have some differences. On abortion, Carvin is pro-choice while Morgenthaler is pro-life. Carvin supports the Disclose Act, legislation that would require increased political donor disclosure, while Morgenthaler feels that it would go against free speech and the first amendment.
“People should have the right to support the candidate of their choice," he said.
Republican incumbent Robert Castelli faced off against Democratic challenger David Buchwald.
Both candidates touted their records; Castelli noted that he was in the legislature for years in which the state budget has been improved, during passage of the property tax levy cap for local governments and schools, and for creating the pension Tier VI for public employees that's meant to save money for taxpayers. Buchwald, a White Plains city councilman, talked about going through the city's budget to save money, and in pushing for bringing jobs locally. He also touted his record on Metro-North's Commuter Council, which is an advisory panel that suggests policy.
The two showed their differences repeatedly in several areas.
Castelli supports repealing the Triborough Amedment, which requires keeping terms in place of expired public employee union contracts.
“We need mandate relief.”
Buchwald does not support repeal, sayin that he does not consider Triborough to be an unfunded mandate. He added that it does not mandate the terms of the contracts. Buchwald also argued that if a local government does not like a term with its union, then it should not be in the original agreement.
The two also disagreed on same-sex marriage legislation, which the legislature successfully passed and Cuomo signed into law in 2011. Buchwald supported the change and criticized Castelli for voting against a legalization bill. Castelli countered that he support civil unions, and was concerned about the bill not having enough protection for religious groups.
The candidates also took opposite views on gun control, which has been a contentious issue in the election. Castelli said that he supports raising, from a misdemeanor to a felony, weapons possession of someone who is convicted of domestic violence, but stated that he voted against anotehr bill covering the topic because the weapons possession would be punished before arraignment.
“It was a bill not to convict you prior to having a day in court, and that was a constitutional issue.”
Buchwald countered that the bill was related to domestic violence in a family court setting, not criminal court. He also blasted Castelli on gun control and accused him of being friendlier to the interests of the National Rifle Association.
Democratic challenger Justin Wagner was the lone candidate who showed up. Republican incumbent Greg Ball could not make it due to a pre-scheduled event, according to the forum moderator.
At the forum, Wagner gave a speech touting his positions and asking for peoples' support and touted a platform that includes mandate relief (a state takeover of Medicaid and local governments' pension costs, among the issues).
“We need real unfunded mandate relief."
Wagner also called for campaign finance reform and legislation limiting the number of guns that could be purchased per month.