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Latest Congressional forum held in front of area business owners, students

By PAT BAILEY

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - Several dozen business owners attended a forum between both 24th Congressional District candidates on Thursday at The Beeches in Rome.

The forum was sponsored by the Rome Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber President William Guglielmo says the organization does not endorse candidates, rather they give their members the opportunity to choose.

"Certainly, there is a wealth of information from the media and on the internet," said Guglielmo. "But when you see a candidate face to face and get to hear them and hear their views, you make up your own mind and it's really a great education format for our members. "

Republican Candidate Richard Hanna has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce.

At Thursday's forum, Hanna talked about how he believes government is crippling business owners with taxes and regulations.

"As business people, we all know that the one thing we require is certainty," said Hanna. "Some degree of planning to allow us to invest and take risks to take the kind of chances to hire people to grow our businesses - and that is missing."

Democratic Incumbent Michael Arcuri talked about his track record with providing jobs to the area.

"We created jobs at Remington Arms," said Arcuri. "We worked very hard, we were able to get legislation change, able to bring money in."

"They're employing over 1,000 people, we have about 1,100 people working at DFAS," Arcuri added.

The usual congressional issues were asked by members of the audience, such as healthcare and social security. However, many of those in attendance who submitted questions, did so about issues pertaining to small businesses.

Phil Russo, an employee of Mohawk Valley Community Action, said he was glad he made it to the forum.

"There was one question specifically, about Head Start and Community Action, so it was a positive response. I'm glad for that." Russo said.

Also at Thursday's forum was a group of high school students.

Trevor Cardwell, a Rome Catholic Senior, said that being in attendance was a better experience than learning in the classroom.

"I definitely think so," Cardwell said. "Because of the one-on-one experience with them, and just to hear what they had to say and how they feel about the economy, our schools."

Arcuri and Hanna will meet again, in a handful of forums, before election day November 2.

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