POUGHKEEPSIE – Four of the five Democratic candidates seeking the 104th Assembly District seat gathered in Poughkeepsie recently, 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.