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Four Democratic candidates covered topics such as cryptocurrency mining, climate change and social safety nets at the first primary debate for New York’s 22nd Congressional District on Tuesday night.
Iraq war veteran Francis Conole, DeWitt Town Councilor Sarah Klee Hood, Syracuse Common Councilor Chol Majok and former Onondaga County Legislator Sam Roberts participated in the debate hosted by syracuse.com and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications at SU’s National Veterans Resource Center.
Many of the candidates agreed on environmental policy. The entire stage supported the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, which contains the largest ever investment to combat climate change, though the candidates all agreed that further legislation is needed.
“I think that what’s being passed in Washington right now is a good first step, but we’re going to need to continue to do more,” Conole said. “It is going to be an opportunity to create good paying union jobs right here in central New York.”
Klee Hood quickly called out Conole for his connection to crypto mining. The Protecting Our Future super PAC has spent nearly $400,000 to support Conole. The vast majority of the PAC is supported by Sam Bankman-Fried, a billionaire highly invested in crypto.
Conole defended his campaign, adding that he is the only candidate on the stage endorsed by the Sierra Club.
Candidates then discussed their thoughts regarding the federal regulation of cryptocurrency mining. Chris Baker, from syracuse.com, opened the question saying that the practice has become a controversial topic in central New York because of the public resources and energy it requires.
Roberts said that more studies are needed to make any policy decisions.
“At this point, it’s hard for me to come out … 100% for that kind of mining situation that’s going to put our environment at risk,” Roberts said.
Klee Hood and Conole both said that cryptocurrency mining should be managed and regulated by the federal government.
“We do not have regulations and we need to fully understand the environmental impact implications to not only the local environment, but the future energy consumption,” Klee Hood said.
Conole advocated for President Biden’s executive order which called for a government strategy to look at cryptocurrency and examine its impact on the financial market and the environment.
“I think we need to take a hard look at this. I think it needs to be regulated at the federal level. I think we need to pass the Securities Clarity Act, which will help provide some of that regulation and stability,” Conole said.
On the issue of child poverty in Syracuse, Roberts referred to his work as the Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance in New York state.
“It’s about money,” Roberts said. “It’s about funding. It’s about bringing funds back to this community, and that’s how you end poverty.”
Klee Hood reiterated that central New Yorkers do not have enough social safety nets that would help to lift the community.
“We need to invest in single payer, universal health care, and income driven child care. This is not facility set rates. It is based on your annual income and you pay what you are able to afford,” she said. “I recognize that the child care system is broken.”
The primary election will take place on August 23. Early voting begins on August 13.
Published on August 10, 2022 at 1:01 am