Maggie Brooks and Louise Slaughter came out swinging tonight in their first debate. The candidates for the 25th Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Slaughter and Republican Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, squared-off in the WXXI studio.
The one-hour debate, which was moderated by 13WHAM's Sean Carroll, followed a somewhat schizophrenic format. The candidates fielded questions from Carroll, a panel of media professionals, audience members, and back again. A rapid-fire round was thrown in for good measure.
Slaughter struck first in her opening statement, hammering away at the many scandals that have occurred in county government during Brooks' time at the helm. When Brooks says all eyes are on Monroe County, she must mean the state comptroller and the attorney general, Slaughter said.
But Brooks didn't blink. She continuously cast Slaughter as part of a dysfunctional federal government that is doing more to hurt than help the country.
The questions covered a lot of ground, including poverty, taxes, health care, education, and women's rights. Both candidates had difficulty at times staying within the time limits and had to be cut off by Carroll.
No one landed a knockout blow, but both candidates got in their licks. Brooks, who seemed to pick up steam as the debate went on, said the race is a choice between "the best of our community and the worst of Washington."
On health care, Slaughter said seniors should "be very afraid" if Brooks gets elected. Brooks and the GOP bash the Affordable Care Act, but they never offer suggestions to fix or replace it, Slaughter said.
"I have never been afraid to stand up for my beliefs," she said, "even when I'm standing alone."