The final segment of the debate forum put on by the Putnam County League of Women Voters and Chambers of Commerce featured incumbent State Senator Greg (R-C Patterson) and his Democratic challenger for the 40thDistrict, attorney and Croton-on-Hudson resident Justin Wagner.
Throughout, Ball highlighted the success he said he has had in Albany working in cooperation with Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, citing two balanced budgets, the partial repeal of the MTA commuter tax and tax cuts for the middle class.
Wagner, who said he was running on a platform of investing in infrastructure that would lead to job growth, easing the burden of unfunded mandates, reforming campaign finance and protecting a woman’s right to choose, said that Ball’s voting record was a very conservative one that was in opposition to many initiatives supported by the governor.
A question submitted by an audience member asked if the candidates believed the state needed stricter gun control laws.
Ball said that he was more focused on issues of job creation and cutting taxes.
“Two million people have not left the state because of social issues,” Ball said. “Social issues that divide us are not my priority.”
Wagner, who said he grew up hunting, said he was in favor of a proposal to limit the number of guns one person could purchase annually to 12; what he called a protection against people buying guns in bulk and selling them on the black market.
Wagner said that Ball had voted against legislation that would have restricted the sale and possession of
of 50 caliber weapons and “cop killer” bullets and that Ball had been ranked by the Conservative Party as the most conservative senator in New York State.
“The Hudson Valley wants common sense and pragmatism; not extremism,” Wagner said.
Opposed to the death penalty, Wagner said he did not support the idea of imposing the death penalty specifically on individuals who are convicted of killing a law enforcement officer, which Ball does support.
“You talk about extremism. If you don’t support the death penalty for cop killers, that’s extreme,” Ball said.
Ball said he was opposed to a campaign finance reform bill that would use matching funds from tax dollars to help fund campaigns.
“In this tough economy the last thing we need to do is take over $100 million to pay for political campaigns,” Ball said
Wagner said he was in favor of the measure that he said would cost less than $2 per taxpayer and help to relieve the influence of wealthy donors during elections, who currently can give a state candidate $10,000 in an election cycle.
“That is an insane limit,” Wagner said.
Both candidates said they were in favor finding ways to lift the burden of unfunded mandates. Ball cautioned that this would have to be done with precision, so as not to hurt beneficial programs, like special education.
“We have to be very careful with what we are doing because of the progress we’ve made on education,” Ball said.
Wagner said if elected he would push to have the state take back the administration of Medicaid that is now administered county by county, ultimately saving taxpayer dollars.
“We need to let the county governments…do what they are designed to do, not running programs that the state should be handling,” Wagner said.
In closing, Ball said he would continue to work cooperatively with the governor.
“A lot of candidates can promise all day long. As state senator, I have something called a record,” he said. “Albany has become an example of effective bipartisanship leadership.”
Wagner said he was in favor of several measures supported by the governor that Ball opposed, including an increase in the minimum wage, a health care exchange, campaign finance reform and a protecting a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.
“If you want a partner for the governor, send me to Albany,” Wagner said.
Filed Under: The Putnam Examiner