Democratic congressional candidate Jackie Gordon backed President Joe Biden's plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student debt while announcing support for codifying abortion rights and same-sex marriage during a one-on-one discussion with Newsday Associate Editor Joye Brown on NewsdayTV in Melville.
Gordon, 57, a U.S. Army combat veteran and former Babylon Town Council member from Copiague, is challenging Republican incumbent Andrew Garbarino in the 2nd Congressional District in a rematch of their 2020 race that Garbarino won by more than 23,000 votes.
Garbarino, 38, an attorney and former New York State assemblyman, was invited by Newsday to participate in the debate, but organizers were unable to find a date and time that was agreeable to Garbarino’s campaign.
Gordon, a former public school teacher and guidance counselor, said she supported Biden's initiative to provide up to $20,000 in debt relief for some student loan borrowers.
"Students cannot make it with this burden on their back," Gordon said at the NewsdayTV event taped Monday night.
From breaking news to special features and documentaries, the NewsdayTV team is covering the issues that matter to you.
Gordon said the estimated $400 billion cost of the bill over 30 years should be paid though higher taxes on corporations.
In an email to Newsday Tuesday, Garbarino said Biden's plan does not address the root problem of college affordability.
"Massive student loan forgiveness will only exacerbate the cost of higher education while worsening inflation," Garbarino said.
"However, I believe there are common sense steps to alleviate some of the burden of student loan debt without bankrupting our economy, such as addressing interest rates and allowing for refinancing," he said.
Gordon fielded 18 questions before a live audience for about 30 minutes Monday night from Newsday's political reporting team and Long Island residents.
The discussion was moderated by Brown.
A video of the debate can be seen online at newsday.com/tv.
The 2nd District stretches along the South Shore of Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Gordon said, if elected, she would vote to strengthen gun control laws, and repeal the cap on federal deductions for state and local taxes.
Gordon also said she would oppose legislation proposed recently in the U.S. Senate that calls for a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Garbarino said the right to abortion was codified in New York in 1970 and is settled law in the state.
Garbarino said he supported, "common sense" measures to stem gun violence, including closing background check loopholes.
He said he long has backed restoration of the SALT deduction.
Gordon, who served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, retiring from the Army Reserves with the rank of lieutenant colonel, said the United States must continue delivering weapons to help Ukraine in its war with Russia.
"I don't believe that Ukraine wants a cease-fire at this moment," Gordon said. "It is their conflict. And at this moment … the help that they're looking [for] from us is additional weapons."
"To keep Americans safe, we must stand up to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his authoritarian brutality and provide Ukraine with the resources to defend itself and protect its people," Garbarino said.
Asked whether Biden won the 2020 election, Gordon responded: "Yes."
She also called for reforming the Electoral College.
"When a president wins by the popular vote, they should win the election," she said.
The Electoral College is the formal body for electing the president and vice president.
Each state has as many electors as it has representatives and senators in Congress.
Garbarino, who voted to certify the 2020 election results, said Biden won the presidential race.
But Garbarino expressed support for maintaining the Electoral College.
"Presidential candidates are supposed to run to represent the entire country, not just the major cities," Garbarino told Newsday in his email.
"The Electoral College system ensures that small states and less populous areas have their voices heard," Garbarino said.
Robert Brodsky is a breaking news reporter who has worked at Newsday since 2011. He is a Queens College and American University alum.
Copyright ©2022 Newsday. All rights reserved.