ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The League of Women Voters hosted a forum Thursday for New York State Assembly Seat 135. The debate was between Democrat Assemblymember Jen Lunsford, and her challenger, Republican Joe Chenelly running for the spot.

The back and forth centered on public safety, abortion, voting rights, and education.

Assemblymember Jen Lunsford outlined her priorities on day one, should she be re-elected:

“We are still working our way out of COVID. We have a workforce development problem and parents who are still not back to work, and we need to figure out ways to help families make their ends meet,” Lunsford said.

Joe Chenelly, also a Marine and national chair of AMVETS, said if he wins, public safety is key.

“First priority right now has to be public safety. And there’s nothing more important right now than setting a ‘dangerousness standard,'” Chenelly said.

Chenelly’s talking about bail reform changes made in 2019. In short, he feels judges can’t be judges to keep dangerous criminals off the streets. Lunsford feels the law and the problems are far more complicated. 

“What we’re seeing is the impact of poverty, of illegal guns, and disinvestment in some of our poorest zip codes,” Lunsford said.

Abortion rights were also brought to the table — and the state constitution’s equal protection clause. Both candidates said they will vote in favor of this bill. 

“I will proudly vote for it again. Every single Republican in state government voted against that bill, so I’m glad to see that Mr. Chenelly would be willing to depart from his party,” Lunsford said.

On education, Lunsford said the state should do more for schools via Foundation Aide.

“In ’23, I intend to go back to Albany and hold our governor accountable to that promise that we’re fully funded in all of our schools,” said Lunsford.

Chenelly agree s— and says COVID left our youth behind. 

“Schools should be fully funded. And funding is going to need to be increased with the learning loss that our schools across the board have suffered because of the wrong-headed decisions by Albany,” said Chenelly.

And the new concealed carry law, Lunsford said the United States Supreme Court tied the state’s hands. 

“When the Supreme Court took away that option, we were left flat-footed and we needed to replace it with something,” Lunsford said.

Chenelly says it’s too much. “I think as has become typical with Albany, it went too far,” he said.

The debate also featured talking points on voting rights, re-districting, politics in the classroom, arming teachers, and more. To view the whole exchange, the League of Women Voters will be posting the video here.

This debate was supposed to feature the race for District 130, however, Assemblyman Brian Manktelow had to postpone at the last minute.