Stay with The Voice for live updates about the debate throughout the evening.

Closing statements

8:01 p.m.: That concludes our coverage of the 23rd District congressional debate.

“These are critical issues,” Reed said of the issues discussed during the debate. “I believe our brightest days are ahead of us.”

Reed said that if individuals are supported, rather than the government, then “there are opportunities for us in the future … we are going to make sure your voice is heard in Washington.”

Robertson began the closing statements. “I am proud of my record in Tompkins County and my bipartisan leadership,” she said.

“The people who know me best know that I’ll fight for them.” She called herself a “tireless fighter for the middle class.”

A chant broke out after Reed’s final statement in support of the Republican.

#NY23

A photo posted by Tom Hyland (@thomas_hyland) on

Robertson: Reed part of “War on Women”

7:53 p.m.: Robertson said Reed was a part of the “War on Women.” She asked him what medical expertise he has to make decisions to attempt to quell birth control, Planned Parenthood, and other related issues.

Robertson was booed by some audience members after she mentioned the “War on Women.”

Reed disputed the attack.

“This is political rhetoric,” Reed replied.

7:49 p.m.: C-SPAN has has experienced technical difficulties. Updates will be published as they become available.

Sparring on fracking

7:45 p.m.: The candidates were asked about fracking in the United States.

“I support listening to farmers across the district … and really listening to people. We’re seeing opportunities – we’re the yogurt capital of the world,” Reed said. “We have to be a strong advocate for development,” he added.

Robertson responded by saying that there are “so many other ways to create jobs” besides fracking.

Disagreements over Ebola response

7:40 p.m.: The candidates were asked to discuss Ebola travel restrictions and the preparations for the disease. 

Robertson blamed Reed and other Republicans for cutting funding for federal agencies like the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health.

“My opponent has voted to cut the CDC; my opponent has voted to cut NIH,” Robertson said.

Reed responded that what’s needed is a travel ban from the “hot-zone” areas of Western Africa.

Reed also talked about debt and said that the problem with the federal agencies boil down to a budget issue. He said growing budgets for federal agencies represents a “real threat to the future of America.”

Support for Common Core debated

7:37 p.m.: Reed said that he does not support the Common Core. “Teaching to the test is not acceptable – it’s not right for our kids,” he said.

“Let the teachers and the local governments make this determination,” he said of the Common Core. “The teachers need the flexibility.”

“My opponent clearly supports Common Core,” Reed said.

Robertson said that the implementation of the Common Core was “bad.” “High stakes testing doesn’t teach kids … teachers were fed up,” she added.

“We need to put the resources behind the teachers in the schools,” she said. “Education is part of my jobs plan.”

 “This is about quality education for every child in America. If we don’t have some kind of basic educational standards … then [kids] may not be able to get into the great colleges and universities that we have in our district.”

Positions on climate change

Update 7:30 —

Reed said that, when it comes to the cost of preventing climate change, he wants to do a cost-benefit analysis on the issues. “We need a common-sense, reasonable approach to this.”

There needs to be an energy policy that has a short-term, a mid-term, and a long-term. With natural gas, we are cleaning up our environment,” Reed said.

Robertson pointed to scientific consensus on climate change and said, “My opponent stands with the oil and gas industry, he stands with the climate-deniers.”

“Addressing climate change is probably about the biggest job generator we can imagine,” Robertson said. She said Republicans have stood in the way of fixing the issue.

“My opponent has decided that 95% of scientists are wrong,” Robertson said. “I disagree.”

Robertson wants higher minimum wage

Robertson called for a higher minimum wage.

“We need a higher federal minimum wage,” Robertson said. “The most important reason for a higher federal minimum wage is that Wal-Mart shouldn’t get away with having their employees take federal assistance” because they’re not paying their employees enough, she said.

“It’s going to create even more jobs … a higher federal minimum wage is essential.”

Reed said that he hopes to have a discussion on the minimum wage. “Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 … why don’t we say – let’s let the local communities decide? What works in Corning and Elmira is much different than what works” in New York City, Reed said.

“There is a clear contrast between my opponent and myself on this,” Reed responded. He said that Robertson has an “extreme agenda.”

Should Affordable Care Act be kept?

Robertson told the story of her friend who she says, because of the Affordable Care Act, is able to afford several surgeries after a fall. “He would have been bankrupt … he’d be on disability, you’d be paying for him as taxpayers. He’s able to go back to work,” she said.

Robertson said Reed has voted more than 50 times against the ACA.

Reed says he still disagrees with the Affordable Care Act. “What the ACA did, is it focused on health insurance,” he said. “We need to do better,” he added.

“We want to empower individuals and doctors,” not insurance companies, Reed said.

Immigration reform debated

7:10 p.m. —

“We need to make sure our borders are secure,” Reed said. “My opponent is not addressing that issue.”

“I think the issue of immigration is a perfect example of what is wrong in Washington D.C.,” Robertson said in rebuttal. Robertson said that Reed helped blocked the immigration bill that was going through the Senate.

“This is a critical issue for the American people … my opponent has been nowhere on it,” Robertson said.

Reed says that he has worked with other officials, such as Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to work towards comprehensive immigration reform.

Opening statements

7:03 p.m.: Opening statements underway — each candidate gets two minutes. Robertson opens – she says that she has been a leader in Tompkins County, which she says has the lowest unemployment rate in New York State. Robertson claims that Reed isn’t “moderate.”

“My record in Tompkins County is about bipartisan leadership,” she said. “I will always have your back in Washington.”

Reed says, “The number one issue facing us in America today is jobs,” Reed said. “It is the issue we have to solve in Washington D.C.”

7:01 p.m.: Moderator Jeff Stone begins the program. Candidates are now being introduced.

Earlier:

Ithaca, N.Y. — The only televised debate between Congressional incumbent Rep. Tom Reed (R) and challenger Martha Robertson (D) will be held at 7 p.m. this evening.

Reed and Robertson are competing to represent New York’s 23rd District, which includes the Ithaca area, in the House of Representatives.

The debate will be held at Mandeville Hall in Elmira’s Clemens Center for the Performing Arts. It will be open to the public and moderated by WETM anchor Jeff Stone, according to a report by Corning’s The Leader.

The debate could prove a turning point in the 23rd District race. National pundits have said Reed is a modest favorite.


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Kyle Friend

A senior at Cornell University, Kyle covers the affordable housing crisis for the Ithaca Voice. Reach him through e-mail: kyleafriend@gmail.com.