Poised for a debate Tuesday Aug. 23 in their quest for a state Assembly seat are Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Stec (left), a Republican from Queensbury, and Glens Falls Attorney Dennis Tarantino (right), a Democrat. The debate, sponsored by the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, was held in the Queensbury High School auditorium.
Facing off in a political debate, state Assembly candidates Dan Stec and Dennis Tarantino both contended Tuesday Sept. 25 they will best represent the voters of the 114th Assembly District.
Stec is the Republican candidate and supervisor of the town of Queensbury, and Tarantino is the Democratic candidate, employed as an attorney in Glens Falls.
The forum, sponsored by the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, was held in Queensbury High School.
While both agreed that economic expansion and job creation was a primary legislative concern, the two offered opposing views on several issues including hiking the minimum wage.
Stec said increasing the minimum wage would throttle economic expansion and put people out of work.
“The economy is fragile, and New York has the next-to-worst business climate,” he said. “Business owners say raising the minimum wage would do more harm than good and cause layoffs.”
But Tarantino said he supported an increase, saying that it would spur economic activity, raise workers’ standard of living, and reduce public assistance payments.
“I strongly advocate raising the minimum wage,” he said, noting that it is now is barely above the federal poverty level.
“An increase is not going to cost jobs, and it’s the right thing to do for low-income families — working people need the raise.”
Tarantino said he was seeking the Assembly post because he wanted to advance the progress made during the Cuomo administration. As a member of the majority, Tarantino said he’d collaborate with fellow Democrats and steer more state money now spent downstate to address upstate issues.
“I want to see that we in the North Country get our fair share,” he said.
Both said they were dedicated to get things accomplished in a bipartisan manner.
Tarantino said he had years of experience in compromise, a necessary skill for advancing legislation.
Stec cited his years of service as Chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, working effectively with both Democrats and fellow Republicans.
Tarantino said if elected, he’d establish an association of North Country state legislators, meeting regularly to discuss issues and reach a consensus.
Stec identified his top legislative priorities as shrinking the cost of state government, promoting economic development, improving infrastructure — highways and bridges as well as broadband access — as well as rolling back unfunded mandates that now stifle small businesses as well as local government.
Tarantino said he sought to curb excessive governmental regulations and unfunded mandates, boost the North Country economy, bolster environmental protection, promote tourism and work to consolidate the state’s 108 agencies.
Stec called for the state to call a halt to its land purchases in the Adirondacks, a statement that prompted loud cheers from the audience of about 400. He said that the $50 million in state Environmental Protection fund money now earmarked for acquiring 69,000 acres of forest land in southern Essex County ought to be spent on curbing invasive species in Lake George.
Tarantino indicated support for the pending purchase.
“There’s another side to this issue,” citing that the supervisors of the towns of North Hudson and Newcomb both supported the transaction that has been advanced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Both said that attending to the needs of U.S. veterans was of primary importance.