Congressional candidates Dan Donovan and Vincent Gentile separately answered questions at a Staten Island candidate forum Monday evening. With a little editing we present their head-to-head answers on a few select questions.
The forum, sponsored by “The Middle Class Action Project“, featured the candidates in sequential appearances. Both candidates were asked an identical set of questions, heavily focused on manufacturing, international trade, unions and workers rights. The forum also had a candidate dispute over the format, with Gentile asserting that it was originally intended as a debate and was changed at Donovan’s insistence to separate, sequential appearances. Donovan’s staff insisted that was not true.
The following video excerpts combine Donovan’s and Gentile’s respective answers to specific questions.
Fast Track Trade Agreements & TPP:
The candidates were asked if they “support fast track trade authority”, both generally and specifically concerning the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. Both opposed fast track trade authority. Donovan expressed general discomfort, saying that “we shouldn’t fast track anything.” Gentile focused on the usurpation of congressional authority inherent in such fast tracking. Both expressed opposition to the TPP, although Donovan seemed less familiar with it, ending with a general statement that “all agreements … should be fair to America.” Gentile, who has sought to make the TPP a campaign issue, went through a list of reasons he opposes it.
“Right to Work” Laws:
Both candidates pronounced themselves against any federal “right to work” laws. Donovan described himself as a “true believer in unions”, while Gentile said that he would support legislation to prohibit state “right to work” laws.
Privatizing Social Security & Medicare:
Donovan did not directly address privatization, but said that any changes to either social security or medicare should only be for “future participants.” That suggests no changes for all workers, of any age, currently paying in. Gentile replied “absolutely not” when asked if he would support any privatization and decried proposals to make Medicare a voucher program, to make Medicaid a block grant program and implement chained CPI.
Paid Family Leave:
Both candidates support paid family leave, although Donovan said that “our government” should pay the costs. Gentile stated his support for the version implemented by New York City, which gives employers the responsibility of paying for it.
Update – Full Presentations:
Here are the full presentations, with an opening statement and questions from the moderator, of Dan Donovan and Vincent Gentile.