The candidates in the 27th Congressional District, Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) and former Erie County Executive Chris Collins (R), met for their first debate Tuesday evening at the WNED studios in downtown Buffalo.
Hochul and Collins sparred in a 50-minute debate moderated by WBFO News Director Jim Ranney. The candidates took questions from three area journalists: Bob McCarthy of The Buffalo News, Claudine Ewing of WGRZ-TV and Julie Phillip of WXXI in Rochester, as well as e-mailers.
The debate aired live on WNED-TV, WGRZ-TV, and 88.7 WBFO, as well as TV and radio stations in Rochester. It's the first of three scheduled debates between the two candidates.
Click the listen button above to hear Tuesday night's debate, as well as post-debate analysis from the WGRZ studios with former Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello, former Deputy Erie County Executive Carl Calabrese, WBFO'S Eileen Buckley and WGRZ anchor Mary Alice Demler.
With the election considered nearly tied, Hochul and Collins squared showed some basic differences.
Once the two candidates said they agreed on the need for more jobs in the region and the country, they split on what to do about it.
They disagreed about the role of government in education, pushing federal spending in some areas of the economy, health care, Medicare and even fracking.
Hochul said government has a role in helping to create jobs.
"Government doesn't create jobs, businesses do. We have to create the right conditions and sometimes it's just having a government that's on your side and not on your back. Small businesses need tax cuts. I was one of 18 democrats who voted for a tax cut for small businesses. We also need to make sure we're bringing back businesses that have left the area and not encourage policies where people outsource jobs to other countries, said Hochul.
Hochul said she is interested in small business, saying her mother now runs a small flower shop. Collins said he's a businessman with 500 employees and knows how to create jobs.
"Small business, large business across America and in the Buffalo Niagara Partnership are supporting me to be their member of congress because they know i know how to create jobs. The policies i support are the policies that will get this economy growing and that's what this country needs," said Collins.
Collins said almost all of his companies are in this country and ship products overseas.