WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The candidates for the New York’s 116th Assembly District went head to head Tuesday in a debate hosted by 7 News.
Republican Mark Walczyk, the incumbent seeking a second term, will face off against Democratic challenger Alex Hammond, who currently serves as Waddington’s town supervisor.
It was a lively, yet respectful debate. They did agree on some points and neither was afraid to point out when they thought the other was wrong.
On the topic of the state’s controversial bail reform laws, both say reform is needed, but the state hasn’t gone about it the right way.
“Some type of reform had to be done with the criminal justice system as far as that goes. But, I do not believe that the legislation that was passed in its current form and its previous form was the right way to go,” said Hammond.
“Justice doesn’t see dollar signs. We can all understand that concept and that’s the heart of this thing. But, when you don’t take the district attorneys' and you don’t take the law enforcement or the judges' opinions into account, you end up with something that looks like, ‘Well, just let them all out,’” said Walczyk.
There were also times where the candidates traded shots, like when there was back and forth on an education bill.
“Apparently reckless spending for Mark Walczyk is money that goes to our schools, because he voted twice in 2019 and 2020 against the education bill. So, do we need people like that in Albany,” said Hammond.
“The education bill is a giant budget bill. It’s a giant budget bill; it’s negotiated together. There’s a lot of things in there. And, I think if you reviewed it and went through it line by line, you would have had the same vote as me, at least I hope so,” said Walczyk.
And the two differed on the question of whether or not a Democrat needs to be elected to get things done in the north country.
“Well, obviously I’m here so they’ve already chosen one time, that no, that doesn’t make sense. Those that convince us, if you just let us tax you more, we’ll bring back more of your money. That argument doesn’t sell to the people of the 116th Assembly Disrtict, but I don’t thnk it’s so much Democrat verus Republican,” said Walczyk.
“Mr. Walczyk talked about a lot of things he wanted to get done in 2018. We are seeing the highest unemployment rates we’ve ever seen in this district. We’re seeing higher poverty rates. We’re seeing all these different things he wanted to tackle in Albany, but just couldn’t seem to get done. And, I’m telling you right now, the reality of it is, it’s because he has an R next to his name,” said Hammond.
Other topics Hammond and Walczyk discussed are the state’s COVID-19 response, police reform, and the state’s budget deficit.
You can watch the debate tonight at 7 p.m. on WNYF Fox 28. It’s on Spectrum cable channel 2 and channel 28 on most other sources.