With election day just two weeks away, the three New York District 24 congressional candidates appeared in a debate on Wednesday.
Republican and incumbent Ann Marie Buerkle, Democrat Dan Maffei and Ursula Rozum fielded questions pertaining to both local and national interests, given by CNY Central's Matt Mulcahy and WCNY's Susan Arbetter.
The topics included the approaching "Fiscal Cliff", job creation, the Affordable Care Act, the definition of rape as seen on various campaign advertisements and energy with an emphasis on hydrofracking.
Tension filled the WCNY studio when the candidates were asked about the definition of rape, an issue which made the most headlines in advertisements on behalf of both Ann Marie Buerkle and Dan Maffei. Buerkle said she would not do anything to weaken rape statues, and that Maffei's attempts at exposing Buerkle through campaign ads was "deceptive."
"I would not do anything, anything, to weaken the rape statutes, Dan Maffei knows that," Buerkle says. "His ads were deceptive, distorted, and they lied to women, and worse yet he stood behind the skirts of those victims of rape, and that's reprehensible as a woman." Buerkle said Maffei needed to apologize for the claims.
Maffei did not apologize, aggressively looking right at Buerkle saying she knew what she was doing.
"Every bill you cosponsor, you should be reading," Maffei said to Buerkle. "It's a three page bill, she knew that language was in there, and the reason is she's against abortion, ok fine, but she's even against it in the case of rape and incest." Maffei said Buerkle was following a "social agenda".
Rozum said she thought the focus should shift away from the rape conversation.
"Dan Maffei's focus on this issue has been an attempt to avoid discussing real solutions to the economic crisis...how to get people to work," Rozum said.
The candidates also spoke about the Affordable Care Act. Buerkle spoke against it, saying she would repeal it, and that the cuts have greatly affected health care professionals. Maffei and Rozum also took different stances on the issue. Maffei said he would keep the Act, but make adjustments to fix it in the process.
"The Affordable Care Act, is the law of the land," Maffei said. "It's not going to be repealed, but we can fix it, and there are some things that need to be fixed, I think, for instance Medicare should be able to negotiate for pharmaceutical prices, just like the VA does, that would save a lot of money."
Rozum said she thought it would be "immoral" to appeal the Affordable Care Act, and that she was in support of Medicare for all, a stance she repeated throughout the discussion.
Each candidate had an opportunity for a closing statement, making their appeal to the voters of why they should vote for them on November 6.