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Congressional candidates spar over a variety of issues

The candidates in the 25th Congressional District took part in a Voice of the Voter debate at the WXXI studios on Friday, 10/28/22
Kevin Indovino
The candidates in the 25th Congressional District took part in a Voice of the Voter debate at the WXXI studios on Friday, 10/28/22

The candidates for the 25th congressional district didn’t agree on a whole lot during their Voice of the Voter debate held Friday night. That debate was organized by a collaborative that includes WXXI, the Democrat and Chronicle, WDKX radio, 13WHAM TV and CITY Magazine. It was held at the WXXI studios.

Democratic incumbent Joe Morelle is running against Republican challenger and former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary.

One of the issues they were asked about was a move to try and decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. A number of states, including New York have done that already, but the federal government has not totally moved in that direction.

While Singletary said he would like to see a certain classification for cannabis changed at the federal level, he’s also mindful of the drug’s involvement in some violent crimes, like the allegations it was behind a turf war that resulted in the death of RPD officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz back in July.

“Two police officers were ambushed, one was fatally," said Singletary. "So we have to think about the consequence of our actions before we decide to fully legalize anything or fully defined anything, because there are consequences for the actions that occur."

Morelle said there is a need to have cannabis decriminalized but he also called for more research into any impacts that might arise.

“I think we need to make sure that we also allow research into the long term effects of what the impacts are," said Morelle. "But I agree and I think you’re going to continue to see more and more states move in that direction."

Crime has been a big issue in many of this year’s federal, state and local elections, with Democrats and Republicans often differing on how to try and get a handle on it.

That was obviously in this exchange between Singletary and Morelle, after Morelle talked about the need to more closely regulate gun ownership in the U.S, and Singletary responded.

Singletary: "Criminals are not going to abide by the laws that you want to pass. Criminals are not going to purchase a gun and go get it registered. Criminals are trying to file the serial number off the gun."

Morelle: "So if you use that logic, we would pass no laws, then we would have no criminals, because criminals are the only ones who break laws. I mean, that’s the whole point of what we do in Congress, at the state legislature, at City Council. We enact legislation to make sure that there are standards and rules about what people can engage in and not engage in. That’s the whole point of this."

Singletary: "So here’s an idea, enforce the laws that are currently on the books, do you agree with that?"

Morelle: "Absolutely."

Singletary: "That’s what we need to do.”

The two candidates also had differences on a number of other issues including the economy, who is to blame for high inflation; how abortion issues should be addressed and how the environment should be cleaned up.

Election Day is November 8. Early voting starts this weekend.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.