Monday, September 3, 2012

Tonight's the night

Tonight, The Record is sponsoring a debate between the two candidates vying for the Democratic line in the reconfigured 44th state Senate District.

The debate, which will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bush Memorial on the Russell Sage College campus at the intersection of Congress and First streets, will feature incumbent state Senator Neil Breslin and challenger Shawn Morse, the Albany County Legislature chairman, both of whom are on the Sept. 13 primary ballot.

The free public event is co-sponsored by The Sage Colleges.

 The debate will be moderated by Record columnist John Gray, co-anchor of Fox 23 News. Record City Editor James V. Franco, Record reporter Danielle Sanzone and longtime Capitol reporter Kyle Hughes of NYSNYS News, who provides content to The Record and its sister newspapers
in New York state, will question the candidates.

If time permits, we will include questions from the audience submitted in writing as part of the debate.

We felt it was important to shine a spotlight on this race because of changes made to the 44th Senate District during the recent reapportionment process. Senator Breslin's current Senate district includes only Albany County. However, come Jan. 1, a portion of the city of Troy and the entire city of Rensselaer will be added to the new 44th state Senate District, which also includes several Albany County communities.

While many of us at The Record have dealt with both men over the years, we thought it was a good idea to provide such a forum so voters on both sides of the Hudson could get a better understanding of these candidates and where they stand on the issues.

This debate came together quickly and it wouldn't be have been possible without the cooperation of several people.

First, let me offer my personal thanks to our co-sponsor, The Sage Colleges, in particular, Ardelle Hirsch, director of media and public relations, and Christine Cowieson, coordinator of conferences and events. These are two dynamite professionals who are good at what they do and a pleasure to work with on any project.

I also want to thank John Gray, who after a quick check of his very busy schedule, readily agreed to moderate the forum. John, whose popular column appears Wednesdays in The Record, moderated a previous debate for us at the same location between then Troy mayoral candidates Frank LaPosta and Harry Tutunjian.

It's also terrific to have Kyle Hughes back in the fold for the debate. Some of you might remember Kyle from his days as The Record's Capitol bureau chief. He did some great work for us then and we're happy to be working with him again through his NYSNYS News role and with this debate.

Record readers know Jim Franco, who writes two weekly columns for us, including the popular "Talespin" political column that appears in print on Mondays and online daily.

Reporter Danielle Sanzone covers several Albany County communities for The Record as well as the Troy school district and fills in on just about every other beat on the paper while writing a blog and putting us all to shame through her use of social media.

Thanks also goes to Digital Specialist Tom Caprood, who has been working with Sage to make sure we will be able to video the session.

Reporter Andrew Beam will be on hand to cover the debate, while Chief Photographer Mike McMahon will be taking the photos.

Finally, I would like to thank the gentlemen of the hour, Neil Breslin and Shawn Morse. Both men readily agreed to participate in this debate and their campaigns worked hard to clear their schedules so we all could pull this off for the residents of the newly configured 44th state Senate district.

As I type this, the days are quickly winding down toward the Sept. 13 primary. The time demands on all of us are great, but I hope you'll be able to take some time out of your hectic schedule and join us for what promises to be an interesting evening.

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