The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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Fitzpatrick and Ehasz Face Off in Public Debate

Ashley Ehasz photo by Grace Levy

In a long-awaited forum, Republican incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick and Democratic challenger Ashley Ehasz publicly debated for the first time on Oct. 25 at the Lower Bucks Bristol Campus to a full, rowdy crowd of supporters, online viewers watching via livestream, and community members, as each candidate answered preselected questions concerning their political viewpoints and stances.

Fitzpatrick’s bipartisan record in his previous two terms has resonated with many 1st Congressional district voters, and polling continues to predict him as the winner. Ehasz has struggled with campaign recognition and underfunding compared to Fitzpatrick; however, she said, “We’re not funded by corporate donors, and that is something any candidate, especially a working-class candidate like me, can be really proud of…[especially] the grassroots organization that we’ve done.”

Supporters for both candidates were outside the debate building, chatting with visitors. “I’m voting for the most qualified candidate,” said Steve Cickay, a Bucks County community member.

“I’m proud Bucks can be a vehicle for discourse in our community,” said Dr. Ganther, President of Bucks. “This is an opportunity for people to hear perspectives, and to hear the candidates.”

The candidates naturally have opposing views on many issues, one of those being abortions, “We have to protect a woman’s right to choose at the federal level,” said Ehasz. “I am standing here on this stage today as a second-class citizen at the hands of Brian Fitzpatrick,” she said, referring to his vote against the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would prohibit the restrictions of abortion services.

Fitzpatrick emphasized his bipartisan stance, and said Congress needs to find ways to build solutions with each party. He also clarified that he believes in “limits, not bans” on abortions.

On the economy Fitzpatrick said, “Inflation is the result of bad policy,” he continued, “We need to fix the supply chain structure, fix tax rates, and we need to find an equilibrium on monetary policy.”

Ehasz stressed the importance of affordable childcare, overturning Trump tax cuts, and protecting social security. “Get rid of the Trump tax cuts; that will be my answer every time,” she said, clarifying how she would pay for these policies.

“It can’t be a one nation project,” said Fitzpatrick on climate change. “We need punishments for countries that don’t oblige. There needs to be a universal system.” Fitzpatrick mentioned his support of the Market Choice Act, a bill introduced into the House that would impose a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

“As we move forward, we should not make the problem worse,” said Ehasz, and agreed that corrective actions should be put in place.

Despite their differences, both Ehasz and Fitzpatrick agree to continue to support the war in Ukraine.

“I lived there; I have friends there. Initially, all they needed was aerial protection, and now they need more. Our European allies need to step up,” said Fitzpatrick. “I will fight tooth and nail for our friends and allies in Ukraine. They will get every last ounce of support they need as long as I’m in the House.”

Ehasz, an Army veteran, said the United States needs to allocate more “resources, and make sure the weapon systems [Ukraine] currently has can continue to be used moving forward. So that means resources for maintenance, spare parts, and making sure [Ukraine] has the proper funding to care for those soldiers who are going into harm’s way.”

During his closing statements Fitzpatrick said, “We are blessed to live in this country. We are so fortunate…Bipartisanship is how we preserve Democracy.”

“Our community deserves a leader. I believe I am that leader. I want to make sure this community is cared for,” said Ehasz. “I’m not funded by corporate donors. I’m funded from supporters, in this grassroots campaign, and that’s something I’m proud of.”