Congressional candidates debate at St. Joe's

Show goes on without Collins

Mike Baggerman
October 30, 2018 - 12:31 pm

Candidates for New York's 27th Congressional District debate at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute. Democrat Nathan McMurray (left) and Reform candidate Larry Piegza (right). Congressman Chris Collins was absent. 10/30/18 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Candidates for New York's 27th congressional district participated in the annual debate at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute on Tuesday afternoon.

However, not all of the candidates showed up. Incumbent Congressman Chris Collins skipped the debate because he believes it does not benefit his constituents. Instead, it was democrat Nathan McMurray and reform party candidate Larry Piegza who debated a series of topics ranging from the economy and foreign affairs, to the #MeToo movement and questions about Congressman Collins. 

The two candidates debated on a stage with their own podium and a podium for Congressman Collins, which stood unoccupied for the duration of the hour-long debate.

"It's a cowardly thing to do," McMurray said about Collins skipping the debate. "He should be here. There's only one reason why he's not standing on the stage with me. It's because he doesn't want to face accountability. He doesn't want me to ask questions about 11 felony counts by the Trump administration's justice department. He doesn't want me to ask him about why he's out on bail."

McMurray said part of the debate was about the educational experience for the students at St. Joe's and the democrat lauded the organization for not canceling the debate despite Collins' refusal to participate.

"I was impressed with the amount of questions that were asked," Piegza told reporters after the debate. "The questions were all great. The crowd was very responsive and into it. I think it was very clear that candidates are searching for an alternative to Chris Collins, who obviously is not going to be representing our district."

Piegza, who said he entered the race because of ethical wrongdoings in the past by Collins, said that a vote for him is a vote for ethical candidates. 

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