Charles M. Swanick, the Conservative Party candidate for the 60th Senate district seat, speaks during this morning's debate at St. Joe's as Democrat Michael Amodeo, left, and Republican incumbent Mark J. Grisanti listen. (John Hickey / Buffalo News)
By Charity Vogel
The three chief candidates in the race for the 60th Senate district seat this fall criticized each other – in matters personal and political – and offered arguments for their own agendas in a debate before a packed auditorium at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute Wednesday morning.
The discussion was heated and humorous by turns, before an audience of several hundred students, faculty members, and members of the press.
The debate, an autumn tradition at the Catholic high school on Kenmore Avenue, was the first – and could be the only – time that the three main candidates in the contentious race have engaged in a debate on the issues.
Incumbent Republican Mark J. Grisanti spoke about his record over the past two years since his election to the office in 2010, and referenced several times his close working relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.
Grisanti, a Buffalo resident, called his record a testimony to his “fantastic rapport” with Cuomo. Michael Amodeo, an attorney from Hamburg who is challenging Grisanti on the Democratic line, called Grisanti’s record of voting with the Republicans in Albany “95 percent of the time” a sign that Grisanti is not as independent as he claims to be. “People want change,” said Amodeo. “They want people who fully represent their community.”
Charles M. Swanick, the challenger running on the Conservative Party line, said that he has knocked on 7,200 doors in the district so far, and is hearing from constituents that they want to see change in Albany.
“We need to change the mindset of the people in Albany, to get things moving for once and for all,” said Swanick, a Town of Tonawanda resident and former Erie County Legislature chairman.
A live video debate among the candidates in the 60th Senate district will be hosted by The Buffalo News on Oct. 31, but so far only Swanick and Amodeo have agreed to participate in that discussion.
Grisanti has declined the invitation of The Buffalo News to take part.
Election Day is Nov. 6.