Democratic assembly candidates debate


POUGHKEEPSIE – Four of the
five Democratic candidates seeking the 104th Assembly District seat gathered
in Poughkeepsie Thursday night for a candidate forum.

Participating were Jodi McCredo, a Beacon City Council member, Orange County
Legislator Kevindaryan Lujan, Ralph Coates of Poughkeepsie and Alexander
Kelly of Beacon.

City of Newburgh Councilman Jonathan Jacobson was unable to attend due to
a city council meeting in Newburgh.

The candidates were asked a series of questions including what their top
priority would be if elected. Kelly named a “comprehensive plan to
stabilize the economy while McCredo, Lujan and Coates all named improving
the funding for public schools. Lujan also denounced a plan for a charter
school in Poughkeepsie calling it “unacceptable” especially when
public schools are struggling.

The four candidates agreed that the legalization of marijuana for recreational
use needs to be allowed in New York. McCredo said “it’s insane to me
that it’s still illegal” while Lujan said that “it needs to be
decriminalized and taxed.”

When addressing the opioid epidemic Coates called for more proactive prevention
while Kelly, a staffer for the late Assemblyman Frank Skartados called for
the decriminalization and regulation of opioids. Lujan told the audience
that prevention education is “the most important, yet least funded”
way to prevent abuse. He said the Dutchess County Stabilization Center a
“model” that needs to be replicated.

The candidates agreed on topics including campaign finance reform, strict
ethics standards in light of repeated scandals in Albany, affordable health
care and addressing the tax burden faced by small businesses. The winner
of the September 13 primary will face Republican candidate Scott Manley
of Newburgh in November.