BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – The two men vying to represent the new 19th Congressional District in Congress spoke to the local business community today.

Republican Marc Molinaro and Democrat Josh Riley answered questions during a Meet the Candidates Breakfast sponsored by the Leadership Alliance at the Binghamton Club.

Riley had to participate via Zoom due to a recent COVID exposure.

The candidates discussed their backgrounds, how they would support small and medium sized businesses and how the transition to clean energy should be handled.

With the anticipation of new solar panel and lithium ion battery manufacturing plants being developed in Endicott, Leadership Alliance CEO Stacey Duncan asked them how they would support workforce development in order to staff those factories.

Molinaro suggested a combination of lowering taxes to make our area more attractive to workers, educational programs that align with industry needs, enabling the disabled to participate more and daycare.

“You cannot get principally single parent homes, in many cases women and in some cases men, into the workforce without a stable and available daycare infrastructure,” said Molinaro. “That means expanding access to Head Start. It means, by the way if we’re going to support universal Pre-K, it ought to damn well be universal. It isn’t today.”

Riley has centered his campaign around resurrecting the Square Deal approach of Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company founder George F Johnson.

He said that as a member of Congress, he’d request to be assigned to the Education and Labor Committee which will be considering the reauthorization of the Workforce Opportunity and Innovation Act.

Riley said he’ll meet with local businesses to determine what ought to be added to the bill.

“One of the things I want us to do with that bill is scale up our apprenticeship and vocational programs, particularly using the amazing community college system that we have here. So that folks are getting those skills in a 1 or 2 year program, maybe even shorter for some occupations. That’s preparing them to go work in those plants that we’re going to build,” said Riley.

Both men touted their experience in public service.

Molinaro beginning as a village trustee at age 18 and moving on to mayor, county legislator, Assemblyman and now Dutchess County Executive.

And Riley as a staffer for Congressman Maurice Hinchey and staff member and attorney for US Senators.

Both also agreed that Binghamton will be the main population for the new district which will stretch from the Hudson Valley through the Catskills and include Broome, Tioga, Chenango, Cortland and Tompkins Counties.