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Editorial: Voters can learn a lot from debates

Editorial: Voters can learn a lot from debates

Tuesday debate showed how much voters can get out of debates. Are you listening, candidates for gove

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Voters can learn a lot from political debates

If the public needed to know whether debates can be an effective tool in distinguishing between two candidates for office, they needn’t look any further than Tuesday night’s debate between state Senate candidates George Amedore and Cecilia Tkaczyk.

Candidates for governor take note.

The debate, held at Proctors’ GE Theater in Schenectady, produced some of the best justification for having political debates, showing not only how the candidates differ on their positions, but how they articulate and defend their positions, how they counter opposing viewpoints, how evasive or forthcoming they are and how they personally hold up to scrutiny from a political opponent and the public.

At the end of the debate, there was little that voters couldn’t discern about the candidates’ positions on everything from Common Core, campaign mailings, the Women’s Equality Act, hydrofracking, the impact of casino gambling, legalizing marijuana for recreational use and even their favorite flavor of ice cream.

For the packed house, the debate was as much as they could have asked from such a forum.

Of course, a debate is only one tool at the voters’ disposal. They should scrutinize the candidates’ positions further by visiting candidate websites, reading news articles about continuing developments in the race and weighing the impact of electing a Democrat or a Republican in the evenly divided state Senate.

Only 39 days remain before Election Day and we’ve still gotten no word on whether the public will get the same benefits of a debate from the candidates for the state’s highest office.

Thirty-nine days might seem like a lot of time to organize debates for governor, but it’s really not.

The two major-party candidates, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican Rob Astorino, haven’t even officially agreed on how many debates will be held, if any. They also haven’t agreed on whether third-party candidates like Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins will be invited to participate. Time is slipping away.

The Tkaczyk-Amedore debate showed how much voters can learn from political debates.

Voters should avail themselves of all opportunities to either attend debates in person or watch them on TV or online. Local candidates for state offices and Congress will be debating all season, so look for them.

And let’s hope the candidates for governor see fit to provide the voters with the same opportunity to see them in action.

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