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Holden and Tenney face off in sole NY-24 debate

WNYF Fox-28

Election Day is one week away. Last week, Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney and Democratic nominee Steve Holden met in Watertown for their only debate, which aired on WWNY in Watertown. Both candidates are hoping to clinch the U.S. Congress seat for New York’s newly drawn 24th Congressional District.

To watch the debate in full, click here.

Both Tenney and Holden cited their experience in public service qualifying them to run for office. Holden said his 20-year career in the Army drove him to run, believing democracy is in peril.

“I've seen what's happening in other parts of the world, and I never thought that I would see it happen here,” Holden said. “Those of us who've been on the frontlines, we want to make our country a better place.”

Tenney said she believes her experience as a small business owner and previous two terms in Congress make her qualified to represent the new 24th District.

“I have the experience not only to manage a very large district and an even larger district that the new New York 24th is going to be,” Tenney said.

The two candidates sparred on several issues like abortion with Holden saying Tenney’s stance goes beyond traditional Republican beliefs on abortion and makes women “second-class citizens."

“It's not my decision, it really isn't,” Holden said. “When we get to these situations where we take a look at what are we going to do when a child is born, my opponent voted against the funding for baby formula. That's not pro-life.”

Tenney said her vote on the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act reflected her belief that the bill would “create the illusion of action without providing any immediate relief.” She said Democrats are using abortion to draw voters away from other issues like inflation and Second Amendment rights.

“My opponent is an unapologetic progressive who idolizes Bernie Sanders,” Tenney said. “He's against Second Amendment rights, even though he served in our military, he has come out against our Second Amendment rights which are under attack.”

Holden previously told WRVO he has no intention of taking away Second Amendment rights saying he supports commonsense gun laws.

The two candidates were asked how they would use their congressional seat to represent North Country and Central New York communities as several counties in the district saw population decreases during the 2020 Census.

Holden said there needs to be an investment in jobs and a focus on protecting critical resources of the area.

“We’re in an agricultural district," Holden said. "We're in a district also that relies upon tourism and we need to make sure that the pristine water and land in this district is protected. We don’t need to have dangerous things such as fracking come to this district.”

Tenney said that migration out of the area is due to “far-left socialist” policies coming out of Albany.

“My opponent is an admitted unapologetic progressive who supports these policies,” Tenney said. “When he talks about fracking and the ability to do responsible gas drilling. That would be a lifesaver for these upstate communities, especially in the Southern Tier where we have an abundant supply of the Marcellus and Utica Shale.”

While the two candidates differed on many other issues, like the southern border and military aid to Ukraine, one issue they did agree on is term limits. Holden said, if elected, he’d serve no more than three terms in Congress.

“I believe that we should absolutely ensure that we have other people who are cycling through who have talents and the abilities to serve our country, no matter what their background is,” Holden said.

Tenney agreed on having congressional term limits, citing Republicans in the House of Representatives having term limits on leadership in committees as another example.

“Yes, I support term limits,” Tenney said. “I know it's not a popular thing to hear from a lot of career politicians.”

To learn more about the race for New York’s 24th Congressional District, click here.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.