PLATTSBURGH — The two candidates seeking to take the Republican Party line away from incumbent Assemblywoman Janet Duprey shared views on state mandates and other issues at a recent forum.
David Kimmel talked about changing the State Constitution to outlaw any unfunded state mandates for local governments. Mandates have drawn the ire of local officials for years, especially in the wake of the property-tax cap that was enacted last year.
Changing the constitution is “a two-year process, and it is a lot of work, but it must be done,” Kimmel told about 20 people who attended the forum for candidates in the 115th State Assembly District race.
Also participating in the session, which was sponsored by the Cumberland Head Taxpayers Association, was Karen Bisso, an educator for 26 years in the Plattsburgh City School District, who said she has had her differences with union leadership.
“I believe we need to be a right-to-work state,” Bisso said. “Collective bargaining is absolutely killing our state.”
PRIMARy SEPT. 13
Bisso and Kimmel are seeking to defeat Duprey in the Republican primary on Sept. 13. The winner will face Democrat Timothy Carpenter, a City of Plattsburgh councilor from Ward 1.
Duprey was in Albany and could not attend the forum, held at the Cumberland Head Fire Station.
Kimmel and Bisso hammered away at a variety of issues brought up by voters, from pension costs to teacher evaluations, government spending and consolidating districts at the local level.
Kimmel said his plan would be to improve trans
portation, communication, Medicaid and health insurance and have a vision for growth in the state.
“Kids in the Bronx are getting cell phones from Medicaid, with our tax dollars,” he said.
“There is a lot of fraud, waste and abuse.”
Kimmel said there is no reason New York could not be a much stronger state.
“We need to send someone to Albany with a focus and an Empire State-sized vision,” he said.
Bisso said that while she does not agree with some positions of her teachers union, she does believe there are excellent teachers in the North Country and throughout the state. But the system, from Albany on down, needs to change.
“There is a huge disconnect between the people in Albany and the people on the front lines,” she said,
“We know best how to take care of ourselves.”
Kimmel poked at Bisso midway through the session, saying that she has come out against a state-approved teacher-evaluation process, yet she spoke in favor of it earlier this year in an article in a Malone-area publication.
“When I hear nonsense, I have to call it out,” Kimmel said.
Bisso denied ever supporting the evaluation system and explained that she agreed that something needed to be done, but not the cumbersome plan that the state approved.
“I never said I supported it,” she said. “It’s an absolute bear on the system.”
QUESTIONED ON TRIP
Kimmel took some heat himself from resident John St. Germain, who basically called him a hypocrite for saying he was against unfunded state mandates when he had traveled to New York City as a member of the Plattsburgh Town Planning Board on a training trip when he could have declined.
“That is your typical pile of malarkey, John,” Kimmel said, adding that he had no choice but to go on the trip because the Town Council did not agree to waive the training requirement.
“I am against unfunded mandates, but I will follow the law,” Kimmel said.
‘VOICE FOR AREA’
Bisso said that as a native of Long Island, she can connect with downstate lawmakers in Albany and be a strong voice for the North Country.
“Bi-partisanship often starts in Long Island and ends in Albany. People in the Bronx don’t care about wood boilers,” she said.
“I can go down there and be a voice for our area.”
Email Joe LoTemplio: firstname.lastname@example.org