Congressional candidates debate in Hopkinsville

For the first time in 22 years, the U.S. District 1 seat in Kentucky is open. On Monday, Democratic candidate Sam Gaskins and Republican candidate James Comer participated in a debate at Hopkinsville City Hall.

The League of Women Voters held the only debate before the general election.

The two candidates focused on increasing jobs, decreasing regulations, and helping Kentuckians instead of lobbyists.

“I don’t understand why Congress can’t balance the budget,” Comer said.

“Have people willing to say enough is enough,’ Gaskins said.

Comer repeatedly referred to what he deems unnecessary government spending and wanting to fix that, and that he’s not bound by party lines when it comes to decision making.

“Start paying off the debt, so our next generation will have the same opportunities if not more opportunities,” Comer said.

Gaskins said he wants to provide incentives for saving government money.

“I don’t understand why a use it or lose it system works,” Gaskins said.

Gaskins talked about finding a way to ensure that people have more money at the end of the month than they do now and being available to hear people’s concerns.

During the debate, Comer focused on  young people, and he said he wants to give them a reason to come back home to Kentucky.

“I want to be a congressman that’s focused on economic development. I will have a close relationship with all of the judges and all of the job creators,” Comer said.

Gaskins says his plan through rebuilding infrastructure can boost the economy of District 1.

“That right there is going to bring more money into this district than can be imagined, from what we’ve seen. We have manufacturing. We have agriculture. We have military," Gaskins said.

Both candidates said District 1 is in bad financial shape and needs a fresh face to make the change.

When asked about a higher minimum wage, Comer said that’s another regulatory burden for small businesses. He said he wants tax credits geared toward working Americans.

Gaskins said he believes it should be tiered, so that corporations pay a higher minimum wage than small businesses.

When asked about free college tuition, Comer said the cost isn’t sustainable, comparing it to the Affordable Health Care Act. He says we should focus on providing more dual credit opportunities in high school.

Gaskins said people could take advantage of free tuition for four years, but the first two years should be free.

Both candidates are running in two elections: One to finish the rest of Ed Whitfield’s current term this year, and another for the regular 2-year term that starts next year.

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