Candidates for Congressional District 22 squared off in a debate streamed live by WPTV News Channel 5 over the Internet. Republican Adam Hasner and Democrat Lois Frankel spent an hour discussing issues that focused mainly on the economy, job creation, health care and Medicare.
The recent demise of the Digital Domain media company prompted a question directed at Frankel, who was mayor of West Palm Beach when the city pledged $10 million cash, $15 million in loans and a $10 million property to persude the business to locate downtown. Company executives and their spouses have since contributed $20,000 to Frankel’s congressional campaign, though she recently announced she was giving the money to charity. With Digital Domain’s collapse, the city is now out $2 million, and the future of the land is uncertain.
At Wednesday’s debate, Frankel was asked if the public should be concerned about her judgement in dealing with public money.
Frankel responded that the “bright side” was that Florida State University – a Digital Domain partner – was committed to staying in West Palm Beach, that no cash had been paid and that the “land is safe.” She pointed out, though, that Hasner voted to fund Digital Domain while serving in the Florida Legislature.
Hasner told the audience that it was then-Gov. Charlie Crist who approved the funding for the Port St. Lucie project, and that Frankel did not address the question of “pay-to-play” politics and a “culture of corruption” in West Palm Beach.
When asked about Gov. Rick Scott turning down federal funds for high-speed rail, Hasner said he always supported innovations in transportation, but that when the economy turned, the state needed to “live within their means, and make tough decisions to prioritize spending.”
“Rick Scott turning down money for the high-speed train — it was dumb,” Frankel responded.
After a lengthy discussion on Medicare and other health care issues, the final question was posed by the candidates to each other.
Hasner asked Frankel to join him in a “pledge and commitment to term limit ourselves, to refuse pay increases and to refuse a pension.”
Frankel said his pledge was “admirable,” but that she would consider it if he would consider hers, which included not privatizing Medicare, not giving tax breaks to the “ultra-rich” and “not to ever take away the right of choice for women.”
The entire debate can be viewed here at WPTV.