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Ball, Wagner Face Off: Campaign Financing

Candidates clash over financial priorities.

Candidates with ties to Putnam County discussed a range of issues important to constituents at a recent debate.

The event—held at the Hudson Valley Cerebral Palsy Association in Southeast, and co-hosted by the League of Women Voters and the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce—featured hopefuls running for the Putnam County Legislature, as well as New York State Assembly and New York State Legislature. Moderator Bruce Apar of Chase Media Group read questions that audience members submitted. Each candidate had 90 seconds to respond.

Here are snippets (in the order they answered) of responses from 40th State Senate District candidates Greg Ball, the Republican incumbent, and Justin Wagner, the Democratic pick:

(Question three) Do you support the fair elections law as is implemented in New York City with matching funds to get the big money out of races?

Ball Wagner
  • Justin and I had a little round table with the Poughkeepsie Journal ... Justin actually said that instead of taking the hundreds of millions of dollars that we could use to repeal the MTA payroll tax, that he wants to take those dollars and use it to pay for statewide political elections.
  • In this tough economy, the last thing we need to do is spend over $100 million paying for political campaigns—the vast majority of which we don't agree with.
  • We have got to use every single dollar we can to repeal that MTA payroll tax. Candidates can talk about it. When you have an 80-percent repeal of the payroll tax that represents over $1 billion, it takes tough work working with this governor to balance those budgets and make those cuts. We did that.
  • To take over $100 million—when we have school districts that are closing up shop, when we have communities that are coming near to do the same—is absolutely, criminally insane. And it's the wrong prerogative, and it shows that the only extremists on this stage is my opponent.
  • I believe the question was actually about campaign finance reform. I think getting money out of our politics ... is a defining issue of our generation.
  • There's too much money right now in politics. Let me tell you how we reform our laws. We break down the contribution limits, because right now in New York State you can donate to either Senator Ball or I up to $10,000. That is an insane limit. At the federal level you can give President Obama $2,500. We need to lower contribution limits.
  • Yes, I favor matching funds. It would cost taxpayers less than $2 a taxpayer.
  • And we are paying for elections right now. They're your glossy mailers that everyone gets in the mail. You are campaiging on the taxpayer's dime right now. The difference is the incumbents get to do it, and the challengers don't.
  • We need to empower elections to be competitive. We need to make sure that voters have a choice, and they don't have a choice when big special interest money drowns out the voice of average people.


Ashley Tarr (Editor) October 05, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Ball also said addressed the topic in the time allotted for the following question. He said this: "Just following up quick on campaign finance reform, the last thing I need to be lectured on is reforming Albany. There's a former state senator, and his name is Vinnie Leibell, and he's on vacation in Pennsylvania because I took him on, toe to toe, and held him accountable. When you talk about the corruption in Albany, as a corporate attorney who has a direct conflict of interest because of the attorneys that are at your firm and the people that they represent, the reality is we have to take the money out of the system."
C Gajowski October 07, 2012 at 04:14 PM
If you have to take the money out of the system , gee whiz,, you NEED campaign finance reform, which Ball opposes.

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