October 23, 2018 / Mahopac, NY – Last night, Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, (R-Mahopac) and his opponent Vedat Gashi (D) faced off in a candidate’s forum hosted by The League of Women Voters of Putnam County, held at the Mahopac Public Library. Before yesterday, Byrne participated in two separate “Meet the Candidate” forums hosted by the Westchester County Medical Society and the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Gashi only attended one of those forums. Yesterday evening was the first opportunity for the candidates to share a stage and debate the issues in front of voters in the district.
Throughout the forum, Byrne demonstrated his superior knowledge of the issues facing the district, and highlighted his numerous accomplishments during his first term. This includes voting against every single tax increase, returning tax dollars to the district to invest in infrastructure and public libraries, expanding access to health care coverage for veterans and first responders, and working across the aisle to effectively introduce and pass more legislation than nearly any other freshmen lawmaker in the state.
On the other hand, Mr. Gashi once again struggled to answer basic policy questions concerning the district and state. He refrained from taking a stand on issues, like how he would vote on the NY Health Act, a bill that would convert New York to a single payer health system. Mr. Gashi also stumbled on how to reduce the crushing tax burden, and could not provide a single proposal to lower taxes and end New York’s out-migration crisis.
Brewster resident Jack Gress, an observer at the debate, had this to say,
“Kevin Byrne won the debate, and it wasn’t even close. He knows the issues and he’s working to make our state a more affordable, better place to live. It’s obvious that his opponent is out of touch with what our communities need.”
In addition to his failure to answer basic policy questions, Mr. Gashi also stretched the truth on multiple occasions and clearly made misleading and sometimes false assertions about Assemblyman Byrne’s voting record. Highlighting Mr. Gashi’s dishonesty, during the debate Assemblyman Byrne provided Mr. Gashi a printed copy of Byrne’s voting record to show he voted in favor of legislation which would protect victims of domestic violence and keep weapons out of the hands of their convicted abusers. Despite clear evidence, Mr. Gashi continued his false narrative, giving observers of the debate reason to question Mr. Gashi’s character and integrity.
Byrne campaign spokesman Matt Covucci stated,
“When a candidate seeks public office, voters expect they run on issues and are honest about their record, as well as their criticisms of their opposition. Mr. Gashi’s repeated attempts to mislead the audience were blatant. Kevin Byrne won the debate and was open and honest about his positions and ideas. This is why Kevin has so much grassroots support and has received endorsements from dozens of labor, business, and first responder organizations, while Mr. Gashi lags far behind.”
A full video of the debate will be published online by the League of Women Voters of Putnam County for all to view.
Now view-able online HERE