Woodstock debate puts spotlight on differences between congressional hopefuls Faso, Teachout
Congressional candidates John Faso and Zephyr Teachout fielded a wide range of questions at their most recent debate that covered topics ranging from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to the proposed Hudson River anchorages, and they also reiterated their oft-repeated criticisms of one another.
The candidates for the 19th Congressional District seat faced off Monday evening at the Woodstock Playhouse in a debate hosted by Time Warner Cable News. During the hourlong session, Faso, a Republican from Columbia County, and Teachout, a Democrat from Dutchess County, hit on their major platform points while discussing topics that also included regulation of the financial services industry, property taxes and infrastructure.
On some issues, such as water contamination in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, both candidates said the companies responsible should be made to clean up the problem and that residents’ health should be monitored going forward.
On many topics, though, the candidates who are seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, diverged in opinion.
While both said they oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they disagreed on whether a president should be given fast-track authority to negotiate new trade deals. Faso said such authority is critical to any president and is “the only way we can actually conduct trade negotiations in a reasonable way,” while Teachout said fast-tracking overturns a
basic constitutional premise, gives the president too much power and “enables these deals which offshore jobs.”
“I think that Ms. Teachout, again, fails to understand the lessons of history,” Faso said in response to his opponent’s position. He said it is vitally important to American companies that they be able to export their products. Faso said Teachout places the blame for loss of American manufacturing on trade but noted many experts have said it is due to
automation and productivity.
Teachout said anyone traveling through local communities can see devastation that is the result of the loss of manufacturing.
“And there are political elites who believe the trade deals of the last 30 years have helped Americans,” she said. “Some of those political elites are big, big donors to my opponent.”
Teachout, as she has said previously, promised to be an independent voice in Congress who could not be bought.
Faso said he is motivated by a defense of the Constitution, of the rule of law, of limited government and of free
On the issue of property taxes, Teachout said the state tax cap does not go far enough to relieve the burden on taxpayers but also takes away local control.
Faso said he favors a plan in which the state would no longer impose its Medicaid costs on New York’s counties and New York City, thus reducing the local tax burden.
Perhaps the most telling questions of the evening were posed by the candidates themselves.
Teachout asked Faso if he agreed with GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump that the next Supreme Court
justices should roll back the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized the right to an abortion.
“I think Roe v. Wade is the law of the land,” Faso said. “It is something that, if I am honored to be elected, I’ve sworn to uphold the law of the land.” He added, though, that he does not support taxpayer funding for abortions.
In his question to Teachout, Faso said there are many historic sites and parks in the district and asked which was her favorite.
“By far my favorite, it’s a place I go very often, is the Dover Stone Church,” Teachout said. She added that if Faso
had never been, he should go because it is “heaven.”
Faso repeatedly has characterized Teachout as a carpetbagger whose ideas are unrealistic and out of touch with the 19th District, while Teachout repeatedly has characterized Faso as a career politician and lobbyist who is beholden to his campaign donors.
Faso, a former state Assembly minority leader, has lived in the district for decades, while Teachout, a law professor at Fordham University, moved to Dutchess County just before launching her campaign. Her name is not unfamiliar to district residents,
though, thanks to her Democratic primary challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014.
Faso unsuccessfully run for governor in 2006, when he was defeated by Eliot Spitzer, and state comptroller in 2002, when he was defeated by Alan Hevesi.
The two candidates will debate again beginning at 7 p.m., Thursday at Congregation Emanuel, 243 Albany Ave. in the city of Kingston.
The 19th Congressional District includes all of Ulster, Greene and Columbia counties, most of Dutchess County and some or all of seven other counties.
Congressional candidates John Faso, left, and Zephyr Teachout share a light moment during Monday night’s debate at the Woodstock Playhouse.