St. Joe's congressional debate goes on without Collins

Oct 30, 2018

Just two out of the three candidates in the 27th Congressional District race turned out for a debate Tuesday at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute in Tonawanda.

St. Joes held the debate in the school's gymnasium.
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

Teacher Ted Lina says Congressman Chris Collins (R-Clarence) was invited. But Lina, who has been moderating the events for more than 30-years says, "the incumbent never responded." Afterwards, Democrat Nate McMurray said, the debates are a great educational experience for students.  

"I give a lot of credit to St. Joes for not vetoing that experience, by going on with the debate despite the absence of Mr. Collins, and allowing the public to see it. You were here, the press was here, and a lot of the teachers were here, and having that opportunity for people to hear from the candidates and not allowing Mr. Collins to veto our free speech was a very good thing," McMurray said. 

(L-R) Moderator Ted Lina, Democratic candidate Nate McMurray, Reform Party candidate Larry Piegza.
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

Reform Party candidate Larry Piegza is a conservative business owner. Piegza says he tried to get the GOP's backing when Collins was indicted on insider trading.  
"I think we absolutely need to show our Republican officers that we are not going to stand by and allow them to give us candidates that there's substantial reason to believe that they've broken the law. So by casting a vote for me what you're effectively doing is sending a very clear signal that you want ethical candidates," Piegza said.  

Debate panelist Adam Kiedrowski, a senior at St. Joe's, says it's disappointing that Collins did not show up because they have a lot questions for the Congressman.


Adam Kiedrowski talks to reporters after the nearly hour long debate.
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

"He has hidden himself the entire campaign. And we really want to come out and see what exactly is he standing for in the current year," Kiedrowski said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Collins Campaign had not responded to WBFO's request for comment.