Two of the candidates running for New York's new 115th Assembly District will square off in a debate next week.
Karen Bisso's campaign, which spearheaded the event, announced Tuesday that it is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Franklin County Courthouse in Malone. Pat Bradley of WAMC public radio will moderate the town-hall-style debate. It will allow for audience questions and input, according to the Bisso campaign.
Bisso, an educator from Plattsburgh, will be on the Conservative Party line in the Nov. 6 election. She faces Republican and Independence Party candidate and incumbent Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, as well as Democrat Tim Carpenter, a Plattsburgh City councilman and correction officer.
Duprey has declined to attend Tuesday's debate. She told the Enterprise her schedule is filled through Election Day. In a press release announcing the debate, Bisso's campaign said Duprey had cited prior Assembly and campaign commitments, and criticized her for that.
"We would like to remind Mrs. Duprey that the Assembly is not in session, so there is no possible commitment there," Bisso's release said. "Given the fact that she has spent very little time in Franklin County, and has not visited St. Lawrence County at all, in our opinion there is nothing more important than meeting with the voters and allowing them to see the candidates in a side by side comparison. Therefore we will make sure that there is a seat available for Mrs. Duprey at the debate.
"Should she choose not to appear then it will be even more evident that Franklin County is not a priority, and St. Lawrence County which she has not been to doesn't matter at all."
Duprey said the charges that she hasn't visited St. Lawrence County at all and has rarely visited Franklin County aren't true. For southern Franklin County, at least, the pages of the Enterprise prove her point.
Duprey has been photographed for the Enterprise at numerous events in southern Franklin County this summer and fall. In Saranac Lake, these included the grand opening of the Adirondack Carousel, two events celebrating the opening of a new biotech company and the 40th anniversary celebration of St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers. In Tupper Lake she held a fundraiser Wednesday night, has met with people involved in developing the Adirondack Club and Resort, and has attended other local events.
Duprey added that her Assembly position is a year-round job. Even though the Assembly isn't in session, she said she has two Assembly-related events next week.
"I have stated many times over the past six years that the most visible and a critical part of the job takes place in Albany during session," Duprey said. "Once I have committed to an event, I do all I can to keep the commitment as people are depending on me to be a part of their program. I will not abandon an Assembly event for a campaign event. My role as a member of the Assembly is indeed more important than a second campaign debate put together by one candidate at the last minute."
Carpenter, looking ahead to Tuesday's debate, told the Enterprise it's important to give voters "as much information about us as we can.
"An informed voter is a powerful voter," he said. "I want the voters to know me."