Watch: Assembly candidates face off in lively debate

116th Assembly Debate: Walczyk vs. Hammond

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The two candidates for New York’s 116th Assembly District matched wits Tuesday night.

Incumbent Republican Mark Walczyk is being challenged by Democrat Alex Hammond. It was a lively, yet respectful debate.

You can watch the full debate in the video above. 7 News reporter Keir Chapman has a synopsis in the video below.

They did agree on some points and neither was afraid to point out when they thought the other was wrong.

The election is four weeks away.

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,” Hammond said, “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.”

“Justice is blind, justice doesn’t see dollar signs,” Walczyk said. “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.’”

7 News reporter Keir Chapman's Assembly debate synopsis

There were also times where the candidates traded shots, like this 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,” Hammond said, “so do we need people like that in Albany?”

“The education bill is a giant budget bill,” Walczyk said. “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.”

And with Democrats holding a majority throughout New York’s government, both candidates had different opinions on the question of if north country voters should elect a Democrat to represent them.

“Well, obviously I’m here, so they’ve already chosen one time, that no, that doesn’t make sense,” Walczyk said. “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 District. But I don’t think it’s so much Democrat versus Republican.”

“Mr. Walczyk talked about a lot of things he wanted to get done in 2018,” said Hammond. “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 t telling you right now, the reality of it is, it’s because he has an 'R' next to his name.”

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