The candidates in the race for the 21st Congressional District seat have agreed on three televised debates in October.
Republican and Conservative Party congressional nominee Elise Stefanik, Democrat Aaron Woolf, and Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello say they are working out the details for debates with Time Warner Cable either in Albany or Syracuse during the week of Oct. 6, at WPTZ-tv in Plattsburgh during the week of Oct. 13, and WWNY-tv in Watertown during the week of Oct. 20, according to statements to the press.
Stefanik’s office says the Plattsburgh debate is “pending invitation for all candidates.” Her office describes the debates as “open-format debates, including new social media technology to engage more voters in the vast 21st District.”
“I look forward to having an open and transparent discussion about the issues most important to the voters in this District; including helping our small businesses grow, fighting for Fort Drum and our military men and women, advocating for our family farms and protecting vital entitlement programs for seniors and those who need them,” said Stefanik. “I hope Matt and Aaron will join me in discussing positive solutions to solve the issues facing both this district and the nation.”
“Aaron Woolf and his campaign team have dodged taking stands on the issues all summer, while misrepresenting where Elise stands on key policies,” said Charlotte Guyett, Stefanik’s campaign press secretary. “Transparent debate is the best antidote for misinformation, and Elise looks forward to a robust, positive discussion about the future of the district and our nation.”
“We accept, in principle, three debates with these three stations, in this general timeframe,” said Woolf campaign spokesman Yianni Varonis. “However, the debates’ exact logistics will have to be negotiated with the campaigns together.
“We look forward to seeing if Elise Stefanik will finally let voters know if she supports Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare; if she has a concrete plan to raise the federal minimum wage and make it a livable wage; and if she’ll fight to end tax breaks for millionaires who pay a lower tax rate than middle class families and close corporate tax loopholes for companies that earn billions,” Varonis said.
“We have officially been invited to two of the televised debates and have verbally been assured that we will be in the (Plattsburgh) debate as well,” said Funiciello by email. “We are looking forward to being in every debate we are invited to.”
Explaining his concern that he, as a third-party candidate, might be ignored, Funiciello said that “both of the corporate party candidates have pledged to me that they would not try and negotiate their way into excluding me from any debate. I believe they can be taken at their word.”
Stefanik, a former Republican staffer in the George Bush administration who moved to Willsboro and announced her candidacy, easily won a June primary to take the Republican nomination over Watertown businessman Matt Doheny.
Woolf, a Democrat from Brooklyn who owns a grocery there and who makes documentary films, now makes his home in Elizabethtown.
Funiciello lives in Glens Falls and runs a bakery there.