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Katko and Deacon clash in first televised debate

Colleen Deacon for Congress; Congressman John Katko
Collen Deacon and Rep. John Katko.

Republican Rep. John Katko and Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon had their first televised debate Tuesday on Time Warner Cable News. The two candidates clashed on a number of national issues including how to defeat ISIS. Deacon said using ground troops should be a last resort. Katko said he would only support ground troops if the generals said that is what they need.

“They told me that what they need is training troops, troops to train the Iraqi forces to do it themselves,” Katko said.

The two disagreed on funding for Planned Parenthood and how to fix the Affordable Care Act. Deacon said federal subsidies can counter the rise in health insurance rates.

“So we need to make sure that those do rise as hikes rise, so it is affordable for everybody,” Deacon said.

On the Black Lives Matter movement, Deacon and Katko agreed on equipping police officers with body cameras but Katko also emphasized that all lives matter.

On issues facing the 24th Congressional District both candidates accused each other of not doing enough about the toxic blue-green algae in Owasco Lake, as well as lead paint and FEMA flood maps in Syracuse. Being included in the flood maps means residents have to purchase expense insurance, so the maps are controversial. Katko attacked Deacon’s record working for the Syracuse mayor’s office and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

“If you were working on the FEMA flood map for ten years and you weren’t able to change it, then you failed,” Katko said. “If you were working on the blue-green algae issue for all that time, you would’ve known that we’ve been working on it since I’ve been in Congress.”

“We worked very hard with FEMA to get them off the maps,” Deacon said. “You can’t just point to some random things that you think you might have had input on when you didn’t. You haven’t been paying attention to Owasco Lake, this blue-green algae issue. I’m not in Congress.”

The two candidates will face off again with two more televised debates and an editorial board meeting with The Post-Standard before the election. The 24th Congressional District includes Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne counties and the western portion of Oswego County.