Assembly Debate Highlights Inflation, Crime, Gun Laws, Abortion

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JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – Candidates for New York State’s 150th Assembly seat discussed their priorities during a debate in Jamestown last night. Among top issues include inflation, crime, gun laws and aboriton rights.

Assemblyman Andrew Goodell (R) and challenger Sandra Lewis (D) went head to head at the at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts.

“In particular, I’m deeply concerned about the impact of inflation on all of our families. And especially, the cost increases that we’re seeing in energy. National fuel just mentioned that our anticipated energy costs will go up fifty percent this year for natural gas to heat our homes, and there’s reasons for that because it’s being driven by bad state policy,” claims Goodell.

The incumbent also listed reinstating bail discretion, welfare reform, and gun rights as his main focus heading into a new term. Lewis, however, has a different priority list.

“Affordable housing, there are people that are struggling with their rent. The rent prices have gone up. There’s some programs I’m thinking about starting here that I’ve seen elsewhere in the state like subsidized housing and rent, keeping them low. I would love to work on mental health accessibility,” says Lewis. 

The SUNY Fredonia professor also emphasized the importance of working with the new gun laws and improving them, not seeking to overturn them. 

The effects of inflation remained a focus throughout the night, as each of the candidates shared how they would combat the near recession.

“To address the inflationary pressures and help New Yorkers recover, I supported gas tax cut. Unfortunately, it was only temporary, surprise surprise it expires shortly after the election. I support making that gas tax permanent. Second, I support developing more energy for Chautauqua County in the state of New York. The Democrat majority has blocked every single natural gas pipeline application that was coming into New York and has banned any further development of natural gas resources that we have right here in Southwestern New York,” explains Goodell.

Lewis says that she would investigate how gas prices in Chautauqua County are more expensive than in Manhattan, and work to achieve the same subsidies that area receives to lower our gas prices.

Candidates were also given the chance to share their opinion on the new gun laws passed in the state, including the restriction of firearms in “sensitive” locations and more rigorous social media checks.

“I see nothing wrong in requiring someone to have training for using that weapon. I find nothing wrong in having someone have a background check to make sure they don’t have a criminal record and having someone to share their social media,” says Lewis. “Maybe that came because of the shooters talking a lot about killing people on social media.”

Goodell, however, says the new gun laws are in direct opposition to recent Supreme Court rulings and only restrict legal gun owners who have already passed background checks, not those committing crimes.

The focus then shifted to the adjacent concern of crime and public safety, with bail reform being a highlight of that issue.

“New York is the only state in the nation that does not allow judges to consider how dangerous the person is that was just arrested in determining bail. Senator Borrello and I have introduced legislation to restore judicial discretion so that our judges can do the job they were elected to do in protecting you and your neighbors and your kids from criminals,” says Goodell.

The candidate also mentioned that since the bail reform was passed, one third of those charged with a felony were arrested again for another crime. He would also restore parole, fund school resource officers and support new crime fighting technology.

While Lewis agreed with Goodell about judicial discretion, she has her own opinion on how to keep our communities safe. 

“Bad things happen to good people, and we can point to all the sensationalism of that case where someone was murdered by somebody who got out on bail or did not have bail. But there is other ways we can address public safety. I would support having street cameras to catch things. I would support using technology in that way,” says Lewis.

Lewis argues that the justice system targets certain people more than others, and therefore certain processes should be reformed. She would also focus on rehabilitation as opposed to punishment.

Abortion laws were also examined at the debate, with Lewis posing the question of how Goodell would vote if Lee Zeldin is elected and proposes restrictions.

“My position is that I support allowing abortion at will up until there’s a heartbeat. When that baby has a heartbeat, we need to start treating it like a human. And then I would support abortion only in those situations where the mothers life or health is at serious risk or there are unusual circumstances such as a very young person or someone that had developmental disabilities that may not even know they were pregnant,” says Goodell.

Lewis, however, argues that the aboriton debate is more of a concern about government control of a person’s body.

Mental health, the growing homeless population, and the candidates ability to make sure their voice is heard in Albany were also topics of debate.

The full hour long debate can be viewed below, or, by clicking here:


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