CAN­DI­DATES CLASH

Wood­stock de­bate puts spot­light on dif­fer­ences be­tween con­gres­sional hope­fuls Faso, Tea­chout

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ariél Zangla azangla@free­manon­line.com ArielAtFree­man on Twit­ter

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

en­ter­prise.

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.

PHOTO BY DION OGUST

Con­gres­sional can­di­dates John Faso, left, and Ze­phyr Tea­chout share a light mo­ment dur­ing Mon­day night’s de­bate at the Wood­stock Play­house.

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