JAMESTOWN – The debate Tuesday evening between Assemblyman Andy Goodell and his opponent, Judith Einach, turned combative as the two exchanged barbs and questioned each other’s opinions and clarity.
Asked about abortion rights, the two vastly disagreed.
Einach said abortion is one of the reasons she is seeking the assembly seat.
“When these laws are made to limit our rights as women, they’re extremely disrespectful of us as women and presume one group of people have power over another group of people and presume that we as women don’t know how to manage our own bodies and our own lives,” she said. She said she would support comprehensive contraception coverage and equal pay for equal work.
“I support the woman. It is her choice. It is her choice,” she said.
Goodell countered that abortion laws have been on the books in New York since 1973 and “I don’t anticipate they are going anywhere.”
He said a current bill would approve late-term abortion up to the day prior to the due date.
“We’re talking about aborting children who are fully developed and can live outside the womb,” Goodell said. “I think we need to recognize that the child has rights too.”
Einach attacked Goodell’s view by saying he “makes it seem as though people who have healthy children are going to abort them at that point of life,” she said. “There are extenuating circumstances. It’s not about killing healthy children.”
“It is about killing healthy children because the law already has those exceptions in there. I read the bill. I looked at what it actually says. I don’t support unlimited late abortions,” Goodell immediately answered.
He said the bill would eliminate criminal penalties for illegal abortions or killing an unborn baby, he said. The bill also expands who can perform abortions and it would no longer be a crime for non-doctors to perform abortions, he said.
Einach said she would support the bill if women really believed it would be a good law.
“Imagination is a good thing, but reading the bill is a whole nother thing,” Goodell said.
Einach said pregnant women are protective of their babies.
“When a woman has a child inside her, she’s very protective,” she said. Several women in the audience replied with cries of “No.” They were told to quiet down by the moderators.
Asked about corruption in the Cuomo administration and in Albany in general, Einach said pay to play has to end and sealed bidding that is opened in public is important.
She, however, disagreed with Goodell about the level of corruption.
“I disagree with you. I think it’s a smart strategy, not corruption, to get us a Democratic assembly member to bring more money here,” she said.
Goodell called it scary how much corruption there is at the state level.
“We’ve seen an amazing level of corruption, its scary,” he said. “The reason the Governor’s top staff are going to jail is they rigged the bid.”
Goodell said he drafted the pay to play legislation and wants to add State Comptroller oversight on contracts and make it a crime to not report corruption.
Einach talked about needing to get a Democrat in the assembly to get more money from Albany.
“If you ask me what my goal is for Chautauqua County, it is to get a Democrat in the Assembly,” she said. She noted that the district and Chautauqua County received more state resources when the Assembly seat was held by a Democrat.
Goodell said the area’s most urgent issue is the need to be competitive with other states, trying to boost the state’s jobs and population growth.
“That is a fundamental issue I focus on when I’m in Albany, how can I make New York a better place,” he said. “Which laws help with job growth, cut taxes” and help industries and farmers.
He also said a $1 million grant will help get more people off of social services.
“What can we do to help those who are less fortunate, welfare recipients, to get out of welfare, sadly, our system traps those people sometimes,” Goodell said.
Einach, who spent summers on Chautauqua Lake and retired to Westfield, said she ran for mayor of Buffalo but that Goodell’s voting record was what convinced her to run.
Saying she is a fiscal conservative and calling for increased transparency and getting a grip on rogue authorities, Einach said, “I was asked to run for the Assembly, my opponent’s voting record clinched the deal.” She said the deficit causes higher taxes and hurts job creation.
Asked their plans for Chautauqua County, Einach said, “We all know what the social and economic problems are here, they don’t need to be repeated.” She stressed getting a Democrat in the seat to help bring more money into the region.
Goodell said he is focusing on economic initiatives and welfare initiatives. He also said he is pleased with “tremendous economic development in the north county.”
“I lobbied the Governor one-on-one to help get funding for the National Comedy Center,” he said.
Goodell said there a lot of active people in the community who know how to best get and use state grants. Einach countered that the area is not getting as much funding as it could.
“I understand the grant process very well,” Einach said. “We’re missing out, even though we’re getting terrific grants,” she said.
Asked from the audience where the money comes from, Einach said it’s state money.
“It comes from state appropriations and comes from, from appropriations through the state. It comes from working with your colleagues in the Assembly in order to come up with answers, to come up with things that bring it home. It just comes. It comes through the state coffers and other monies that are available to us,” she said.
She lauded former Assemblyman Bill Parment.
“When Bill Parment was our assemblyman we were getting millions and millions of dollars in grant monies,” she said. She said getting more funding comes down to “You have to know how to be a smooth politician in that setting. You cannot be a naysayer, you have to work together.”
“Obviously all money that comes here from the state came out of somebody’s pocket,” Goodell replied. “We can’t just issue it based on your political affiliation, it has to be based on the merit of the project.”
As far as education, Goodell called on increasing base funding to universities and community colleges.
“Increase the base aid for community colleges like JCC and the financial aid we put into SUNY and our other students,’ Goodell said.
“I couldn’t agree with you more that student debt for a college education is a terrible problem,” Einach responded to one audience member who complained about student debt.
She said it is a blessing to society where countries around the world offer free college education, but said it will be hard for the United States to get to that level.
Goodell said there are many options to help with student loan debt, but cautioned that young people need to understand that the cost of an education isn’t free.
“Not looking doesn’t make it go away,” Einach said, interrupting Goodell’s response.
Asked about ways to change and improve voting, Einach called for same day registration.
“I think we need registration, same day, I think we need that. It would be great because that would do away with these deadlines,” she said, adding there needs to be improvements in on-line registration.
She also called for requiring all citizens to register to vote.
“I kind of like the idea of mandatory registration. You can always choose not to but you are still registered to vote,” she said.
Goodell called for expansion of the number of absentee ballots, which is limited by the state constitution.
Asked about voter IDs, Einach said the system is fine.
“I think our system is working just fine. We have very little voter fraud in the United States. We don’t need to show an ID,” she said.
“I think in a democracy it is very important that we have a certain degree of trust,” she said.
Goodell said he does not favor a separate voter ID but would support requiring presentation of any legal form of identification.
“I think it’s amazing that if you want to buy a six-pack of beer you have to show an ID,” Goodell said.
President Trump’s tariffs are hurting local farmers, Einach said.
“I know some people would say the tariff is helping dairy farmers but I don’t believe that after talking with farmers,” she said. “One idea that I have is to help create processing centers right here in Chautauqua County where we can develop our own products and make our own label.”
Goodell countered that Cuomo cuts the funding every year and the Republicans in the legislature restore farm funding. He also said helping farmers includes lowering taxes, improving school aid, using the tax cap, and creating markets nationally and internationally.
In addition, he said whole milk should be restored to school lunches, to which Einach added her agreement.
Goodell also suggested increasing school lunch subsidies if local foods are used.
While Einach supports legalizing recreational marijuana, Goodell is against it.
“I’m in favor of legalizing it. Why? The New York State Department of Health and also an economic consultant hired by the state have come up with their research and they support it,” Einach said, adding that fewer minors use marijuana in places where it is legal.
“There’s no, like, big flurry of people who want to go out and get high,” she said, saying legalizing it wouldn’t increase use.
“I’m not a fan of recreational marijuana. I don’t buy the argument that if you put a pot store in every town in New York State and every county in New York State that usage is going to go down,” Goodell said.
“It’s going to happen whether you agree or not,” Einach said.