Election Day is less than two months away. That means that the three candidates – state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, Democrat Kim Myers and Martin Babinec, who is running on several independent lines – seeking the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna have been busy taking their message across the 22nd Congressional District.

Election Day is less than two months away.

That means the three candidates – state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, Democrat Kim Myers and Martin Babinec, who is running on several independent lines – seeking the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna have been busy taking their message across the 22nd Congressional District.

On Friday, Tenney spoke to the Rotary Club of Utica at the Holiday Inn at 1777 Burrstone Road in New Hartford. It was the first of three forums the club is hosting. Myers and Babinec are expected to speak later in the month.

“This gives them a forum and a platform to hear the candidate talk about what’s important for them, what’s important for the region and learn about their potential representative for our area,”  said Mark Foresti, the club’s president.

Tenney took several questions from the audience. Here are some of those questions and her responses:

If elected, what would your relationship with the Oneida Nation be like?

“I’m not against the casino. We can keep the casino there. With $300 million in net profits, I think they can afford to pay some taxes and to help us out with what we have as a community with the worst economy in the nation pretty much.”

Joel Barkin, vice president of communications with the Nation, said that Nation will pay nearly $60 million to state and localities in revenue sharing this year and that "no other business comes close to paying anywhere near that amount."

"We need a congressperson who is focused on the facts and on collaboration to further increase these public revenues," he said, "not someone that is committed to spreading misinformation and fueling conflict.” 

Why do you believe in term limits?

“What’s happened is the government has gotten so out of control that term limits is going to be the only way that we're going to sort of roll back some of these people who serve forever, and incumbency is almost impossible to defeat once somebody gets in there for a while unless they get arrested or dragged out like we have in the New York State Assembly. You just can’t stop it.

“Yeah, you would like to keep somebody in there that’s good, but, quite honestly, we’re all replaceable.”

What causes would you champion if elected to Congress?

“The No. 1 thing that we need to do is get people a job. We have so many people that aren’t working right now. Right now, it’s easier to not work than to work in some cases, and I meet all kinds of people who say, ‘I really want to work, but I can’t afford it,’ and we need to get people back to work.

“I think that bringing our jobs back here is something we really need to think about doing on the federal level. I’m not against free trade.

“We really need to lower our tax rates and lower our regulatory burden. To me that is the centerpiece of all the successful states around the country who are reviving their economies along with other things, but that’s the centerpiece.”

To what extent do you think Babinec’s candidacy is impacting the race?

“I think in the end he’s going to be really helpful to me because when people find out who he really is, he’s a liberal Democrat.

“There’s some big negatives on him that I think are going to come out. It’s tough to run on an independent line. I met him. He seems like a nice guy. He wants everyone to think he’s a Republican, which he’s not. But in the end, I think that that kind of information will come out because the Democrats, they’re more worried about him right now … splitting votes for them. So they’ll probably be criticizing him pretty soon, I’m guessing.”

David Catalf, a Babinec spokesman, was critical of Tenney's comments.

“I’m sure our Democratic opponent Kim Myers will complain about Martin’s contributions to Republicans like Marc Butler, Jim Seward and Rob Astorino — it’s what politicians do when they don’t have ideas or a record of accomplishment," he said. "Martin Babinec is not a career politician and is not owned by the special interests. He is an independent who will always do what’s right for the people of the 22nd Congressional District.”

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