Candidates for Senator Jeff Piccola's 15th Senate district squared off in their first public debate since the May primary Monday night at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg.
Democrat Rob Teplitz and Republican John McNally have vastly different ideas regarding Harrisburg's debt crisis and what should happen to the school district, and spoke about them openly during the hour-long debate.
McNally, a private attorney and former chair of the Dauphin County Republicans, said he favors strengthening Pennsylvania's charter schools and voucher system.
"The truth is, sometime that's the only lifeline a student has," McNally said. "It's a shame we're spending $17,000 per student in the City of Harrisburg and I don't think we're seeing the results."
Teplitz, chief counsel for the Pa. Auditor General, said he favors small class sizes and supporting public schools.
"(McNally) also says he wants to follow in Jeff Piccola's footsteps (with a state takeover) in terms of education," Teplitz said. "I can't think of a single worse idea."
When asked what needs to be done to examine Harrisburg's $330 million incinerator debt, Teplitz said he supports creditor concessions and possible criminal indictments. McNally said he would leave the prosecuting to law enforcement.
Also in attendance Monday was Pastor Alvin Q. Taylor, who lost the Democratic primary by less than 300 votes in May. He is running a write-in campaign and claims both candidates are "political insiders" who are out of touch with Harrisburg voters.
At least two more public debates are scheduled before the election. The first will take place Wednesday, October 17 at the YWCA in Harrisburg. The second is set for October 30 at the Jewish Community Center in Harrisburg.
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