League of Women Voters hold debate

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward New York State Senate hopefuls Curtis Crandall and George Borrello join moderators Judy Reynolds and Marcia Merrins for a Republican Debate at the League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County Meet the Candidates debate Monday.

Primary voting is just around the corner, and with it, as always, comes debates, as politicians vie for position as their party’s candidate for a particular office.

Monday evening, the League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County held a Meet the Candidates debate at Dunkirk City Hall for the purpose of two vacancies with four Republican candidates running.

The candidates are Kevin Muldowney and Ron Hall for Chautauqua County Legislature Dunkirk District 1 and George Borrello and Curtis Crandall for the New York State Senate District 57.

The second half of the event featured the debate with Crandall and Borrello, whom agreed on most things, but had different ways of looking at how to confront and achieve them.

“In 2009, I ran for the Chautauqua County Legislature because I wanted to affect positive change in our area,” George Borrello, Chautauqua County executive started during his opening monologue. “We worked very hard in the Legislature and we lowered property taxes, we reduced government, starting with reducing the size of the Legislature from 25 to 19 members. We set aside politics and started working together for the betterment of the people and I’m proud to have continued that now as the county executive.”

Borrello went on to answer the opening question of what they believe the biggest challenge New York State is facing:

“It is without a doubt our oppressive state government that has actually forced its New York City liberal radical agenda down our throats,” he began. “It’s ruined our manufacturing base, it’s cost us jobs, it’s driven our children away and has, without a doubt, left the rest of us behind to pay for this ridiculous, out of control government. Here in Chautauqua County we’ve set aside politics, we’ve worked together responsibly to make sure that we’re keeping government effective and efficient.”

Crandall, who is currently the chairman of the Board of Allegany County — and has held the position for 14 years, responded, “It’s important that if you look at the difference between myself and Mr. Borrello is to take a look at what’s been happening with some of the ads that have been out there for our campaigns.

“It appears to me that Mr. Borrello is a handpicked candidate by Mr. (John) Flanagan (the minority leader of the New York State Senate) and there has been an awful lot of money that has been put into his campaign. I go to Albany, if selected, not owing anyone for any favors like that. I would only owe you, the voters of the 57th district. New York has problems, it has to do with jobs and people leaving. We’ve now dropped way below Texas, California and Florida in population.”

The heated opening soon turned to questions from the moderators and audience members. One of the most visited topics of the night was wind turbines and the green energy plans being discussed at the state level.

“This is not about the environment,” Borrello started. “This is nothing but the biggest investment scam of the 21st century. And it’s a bunch of slick snake oil salesmen with the help of the governor, who is trying to run for president, that are forcing these wind turbines down our throat. They are not efficient, we are not producing greenhouse gas emissions. We’re running transmission lines to the dirtiest coal plants in America, to back up this unreliable renewable energy project. The only thing green about this is money, and it’s a lot of money going into a lot of pockets, including the governor’s campaign fund, this is a travesty.”

“Any of those projects, none of them stand on their own as far as an investment, they have to be heavily subsidized,” Crandall replied. “I’m not sure anyone would say they’re against any kind of efficient or green energy. I think we could utilize better, the hydrofacility in Niagara Falls. You have to use a little common sense and I’m not sure that that’s been the approach when Albany says we’re going to be fossil free by a certain date. We’re a strong gas area. I think there can be a better utilized methods and use New York State resources versus Pennsylvania or Ohio.”

Debating continued back and forth with Borrello briefly mentioning his 107 business visits in the first 100 days after taking over the county executive seat.

How they spent two hours at each place they went and found that the jobs were there, but that the biggest issues looming on employers was the ability to find workers who would show up to work everyday and pass a drug test. There is also an issue with the lack of people that have the skills to fill those open positions. The challenge by far, according to Borrello, is workforce.

“JCC has just given away 30 full ride scholarships to kids who are going to the Manufacturing Technology Institute,” Borrello said. “Those are kids that will be able to fill jobs here and stay here. That’s the pathway to keep our people here, to bring more people here.”

The SUNY education system was brought up in regards to this with Borrello saying that “when the business model no longer works, you shift the business model.”

“Right now we’re seeing that at JCC, they’re shifting towards providing the programs that are needed to fill the open jobs that are here in Chautauqua County. I understand it’s a difficult thing for them, they have a higher bar at Fredonia, so we need to free them up to do things that work good for their communities, right now those decisions are made by the Board of Regents and SUNY in Albany and they have no idea what’s going on here locally.”

The topics soon turned to the ‘three-men-in-a-room’ scenario; especially in regards to the state budget process.

“Transparency in government is always a good thing,” Borrello began. “Albany is always like the ‘three-men-in-a-room’ scenario. For the longest time we’ve had decisions shoved down our throat because people haven’t been paying attention.”

“The budget process in Allegany County changed a number of years ago, that’s one reason we’ve been able to reduce the property taxes nine years in a row,” Crandall offered in his response. “I think that’s what has to happen on the state level.”

On Second Amendment issues Borrello reminded the room that “we don’t lose out freedoms in a big wave, it’s a little trickle.”

“I love the argument that ‘you don’t need that kind of gun (auto and semi automatic weapons) to shoot a deer.’ Our Second Amendment isn’t about shooting deer. It’s about two basic things, the right of the people to keep and bear arms and also to rise up against a tyrannical, suppressive government,” Borrello stated. “It’s about holding people accountable for their personal actions.”

Primary voting will be held Tuesday, June 25.