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110th Assembly candidates face off

By Lombardo David
Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Democrat Phil Steck and Republican Jennifer Whalen engaged in a testy forum on Wednesday night in Schenectady, where they each laid out a case for their candidacy in the 110th Assembly District.

Steck argued that the race is about his proven record of public service and Whalen said it was a question of leadership. These ideas were laid out in their opening statements, which are available below.

Both candidates endorsed the idea of shifting the local costs of Medicaid to the state.

On education funding, they both said more needs to be done to help needy district. Steck called for an independent body to allocate funds and Whalen proposed changes to the gap elimination adjustment formula.

They both supported raising the minimum wage, with Whalen saying it should probably be accompanied with tax breaks for businesses. Steck highlighted the fact that he supports raising the minimum wage without any conditions, which prompted Whalen to object to the idea that she required certain conditions to support a raise in the minimum wage.

A major point of disagreement was over the state's scaffold law, which holds employers completely liable regardless of the circumstances surrounding an accident. Whalen said it should be reformed to make the state more business friendly and Steck argued that the law serves to ensure the safety of the state's workforce.

They also argued over the scandal surrounding Assemblyman Vito Lopez and the payout his victims received, which was authorized by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Whalen repeated her criticism of Steck for not calling on Silver to resign or responding forcefully enough in his condemnations of Lopez. Steck noted that the payout to the victims wasn't "hush money," as some have characterized it, but a legitimate payout to victims of sexual harassment who don't want their names exposed.

The Chamber of Schenectady County, the League of Women Voters of Schenectady County, and the American Association of University Women organized the event.

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