Challenger Mike Madigan of Grand Island and incumbent Congressman Brian Higgins held their second political debate this week leading up to next week's election in the 26th District.
Hosted by the Niagara Falls Block Club Council, the forum was held at the Niagara Falls Public Library.
Madigan stressed two major points in his campaign, first, that government officeholders have demonstrated a "failure to lead over the last 30, 40 years as demonstrated in the outcomes. Our inner cities are war zones. We need to do something different."
Citing the region's loss of population and growing economic stagnation, Madigan said, "We failed in the leadership role here in terms of retaining people, growing business and being prosperous."
Second, Madigan called inner city eduction "the civil rights issue of our time," saying the 10 most violent cities in the U.S. have the worst educational systems.
Higgins said the federal government must invest in the economy to create growth. Less than 12 years ago the government had a federal budget surplus, he said. "That was made possible by creating 22 million private sector jobs in the previous eight years. How did we do that? By investing in our own economy: scientific research, infrastructure and education," Higgins said.
Austerity measures have historically failed in the past, Higgins said. Waterfront redevelopment, among other investments, have created jobs in Western New York.
"The fact of the matter is that we have secured over $448 million in funding to redevelop downtown Buffalo and the Buffalo waterfront, which is translated into thousands of jobs in both the construction trades, supply and materials industry," Higgins said, also calling the growth of the medical corridor in Buffalo and the life sciences job sector as vital.
"We want to be a leader in that regard," Higgins said.