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Aubertine and Ritchie joke before the debate, but there wasn't much laughter during it.
Aubertine and Ritchie joke before the debate, but there wasn't much laughter during it.

Aubertine, Ritchie trade jabs in debate

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In what could be their only debate, Democrat Darrel Aubertine and Republican Patty Ritchie both went on the offensive today. In a taping at public television station WPBS in Watertown, Ritchie tried to tie the incumbent Aubertine to Albany dysfunction. Aubertine called Ritchie's campaign "a facade." David Sommerstein reports.

You can watch the entire debate this Friday, October 22 at 9 pm on WPBS public TV in Watertown.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

The 48th Senate district race has been short on substance so far.  With no public debates scheduled before Election Day, Friday morning’s taping of “Public Eye” with host Jeff Cole of WWNY-TV found both candidates on the attack.

Asked how they’d create jobs, Republican challenger Patty Ritchie blamed Democratic Senator Darrel Aubertine for increasing spending while raising taxes to whittle down the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit.

There’s a reason that New York is almost dead last in job creation, and it’s because of tax increases.  The Senator over the last two years has voted for over 14 billion dollars in taxes and spending, and over his career 47 billion dollars in spending, and that’s what’s driving businesses out.

Ritchie said she’d offer businesses 2500 to 5000 dollar tax credits for creating a new job.  But she didn’t say how she’d pay for that loss in state revenue, something Aubertine pointed out.

If you’re going to give tax credits, where does the money come from?  It’s a two dimensional solution to a three dimensional problem.

Aubertine said he’d push for a property tax cap, make the Power for Jobs program permanent, and work more closely with the district’s universities to create jobs.

Economic development needs a criteria that takes into account capital investment, the impact on a community, takes into account job retention, not just job creation.

Both sides took credit for helping to keep open Ogdensburg’s prison, known as OCF, and for stopping Governor Paterson’s plan to require all drivers to pay for new licenses.  And they each heaped blame on the other’s party for the coup last year that paralyzed the state Senate.

The candidates’ sharpest exchange came over the 120 day late state budget.  Ritchie blamed Aubertine as part of the Democratic party which controls both chambers and the Governor’s office.

RITCHIE: That was your own party that couldn’t get together, that couldn’t pass a budget on time.  You didn’t need any votes from the Republicans. That was your side that was responsible for that.

AUBERTINE: But the fact of the matter is it should never be about party, and that’s what your missing.  It needs to be about people.  I needs to be about keeping prisons open, keeping parks open, not sweeping trail funds, and if it meant having a late budget, it shouldn’t have had anything to do with the partisanship of it all being Democrat.

RITCHIE: But Senator, you keep missing the point.  It’s your side.  It’s the city Democrats that you vote with that wanted to close OCF.  It’s your side.

The full debate will air next Friday night, October 22nd at 9 o’clock on WPBS.

For North Country Public Radio, I’m David Sommerstein in Watertown.

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