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Local voters get to meet democratic candidates

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Local voters get to meet democratic candidates
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As the June Democratic primary inches closer, potential candidates for Tom Reed's Congressional seat are out trying to make a name for themselves. Tuesday night, they took questions from voters in Elmira and our Bill Mich was on hand to see where they stand on some important issues.

ELMIRA, N.Y. -- Tom Reed began representing the Southern Tier in Congress in 2010. Now as his first term nears an end, he has some stiff Democratic competition for the seat. Including Ithaca lawyer Leslie Danks Burke.

"Congressman Tom Reed is not bringing jobs back to this region. He is not focusing on the infrastructure opportunities that we have here and I intend to make that a priority," said Danks Burke.

Jobs and infrastructure are a common theme among the potential candidates. Both Owego lawyer Melissa Dobson and Tompkins County Legislator Nate Shinagawa believe that's what it will take to boost the local economy.

"If we bring infrastructure here, a high speed rail, we can bring job opportunities at all levels, from professionals to blue collar workers," said Dobson.

"We have stagnant job growth throughout the Southern Tier, we're even losing jobs in a lot of areas. And what we need to do is invest again in order to get jobs to this community," said Shinagawa.

Throughout his term, Congressman Reed has stressed the importance of lowering energy costs and believes hydrofracking would be a potential solution. But his Democratic competitors don't agree.

"We need to make sure that if we are going to frack and if we can do it safely, maybe. I'm in between on this," Dobson said.

"I think that there is a lot of risks that come with it, not just environmentally, but socially and also risks that will affect the quality of life for people. And I think those are risks that are not worth taking," said Shinagawa.

"It is not going to bring the jobs here the gas companies are advertising. It is not going to bring the industry we need and it is going to damage our existing infrastructure," Danks Burke said.

Plenty for democratic voters to think about before they choose who they want to represent them against Reed in the upcoming election.

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