Geneseo hosts congressional debate between Powers, Kryzan

Geneseo welcomed two of the three 26th Congressional District Democratic candidates, Jon Powers and Alice Kryzan, to Wadsworth Auditorium for a debate on Sept. 2.

Several students and members of the community attended the debate, which was moderated by WHAM News anchor Evan Dawson.

Democrat Jack Davis, a third time candidate, chose not to attend after refusing to make any further joint appearances with the other two candidates unless they agreed to cease taking money from special interest groups and political action committees.

In the event's opening statement, senior organizer Ben DeGeorge attested to the 654,000-plus members of the 26th Congressional District, which spans all of Genesee, Livingston and Wyoming counties and parts of Erie, Monroe, Niagara and Orleans. Current Rep. Tom Reynolds, a Republican, has opted to retire after 10 years in office, leaving the seat to be filled by Powers, Kryzan, Davis, or Republican candidate Christopher Lee.

Tuesday's debate spanned such issues as government responsibility in natural disasters, the importance of small businesses, future jobs in Western New York and alternative energy.

Powers, an Iraq War veteran and former teacher, had much to say regarding the current war and the possibility of future war declarations brought before Congress. Powers emphasized the need for government to issue a plan before voting to go to war, something he feels the Bush administration lacked. He also suggested a "call to service," an option that should precede the use of the draft.

Powers feels that Americans will answer the call not only to arms, but also to volunteerism and community service.

Kryzan, a retired environmental lawyer, has based her campaign on the importance of funding for alternative energy industries, not only to reduce dependence on foreign oil, but also to create green collar jobs in the area. If elected, she intends to take the fight for completely clean, renewable power in Washington D.C.

"We need to be there in 10 years, and we cannot do it without the help of the federal government," she said. Her opponent agreed, but said he believes the future is really in biotech and med-tech industries.

Both Powers and Kryzan said they looked toward to a better future for small businesses in their attempt to compete with big box stores like Wal-Mart, namely in the area of easing health care costs for small business owners.

"I believe in Main Street, and Geneseo is a good representation of what Main Street can be," said Powers.

The audience posed questions to the candidates regarding gay marriage, Social Security, foreign policy in Russia, and lowering the drinking age - which both candidates drew cheers for supporting.

"I love that we had a question about the drinking age and Russian foreign policy," said Dawson. "I think that's very cool."

Both candidates believe it is important for Geneseo students to go to the polls, even if they plan to leave the area.

"[Students] have an investment in the college and, presumably, a loyalty to the college," Kryzan said. "You wouldn't want to come back here in 10 years and find that this area has changed in ways that you didn't like because you didn't take the time to vote."

DeGeorge voiced similar thoughts.

"This was an incredible experience as a student to help organize and host a debate. It shows that we, as students, can have a big effect on local elections and national issues if we keep an eye out for opportunities."

Voting takes place on Sept. 9 and students who would like more information can contact the campus organization Think Globally Vote Locally.