State Senate, Assembly candidates address health care, hydrofracking, tax equality

About 50 people attended a debate Thursday night at Lincoln Middle School in Syracuse to find out where the candidates for the 49th and 50th State Senate districts and 119th Assembly district stand on issues.

Throughout the debate, co-organized by AARP and the League of Women Voters, candidates addressed hydrofracking, inequalities in education funding distribution, improving long-term care for seniors and the 2011 redistricting of state and congressional electoral districts.

Participating in the debate were 50th district Sen. John DeFrancisco and challenger Kathleen Joy, 49th District Sen. David Valesky and challenger Andrew Russo, and four candidates running for the 119th Assembly District seat: Michael Donnelly, Christina Fitch, Sam Roberts and John Sharon.

Some questions -- such as how candidates would provide safer and more accessible roadways for all users, including pedestrians and bicyclists -- garnered unanimously supportive responses from candidates but only a handful of plans for solutions.

But an audience member's question about hydrofracking received decisive responses. Donnelly, a Green Party candidate, and Joy, running on the Democratic and Working Families lines, both supported a ban on high volume hydrofracking, while Fitch, Roberts, Sharon and DeFrancisco were all in support of a moratorium to allow more time to study the process and any danger it may present to the watershed.

The hydrofracking question was not presented to Russo and Valesky, who debated separately during the second half of the event.

For more on the debate, see next week's The Eagle.

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