Democratic gubernatorial candidates spar over ethics, regrets

    During every forum and debate so far, the candidates have focused on themselves, and avoided criticizing their opponents’ policies and positions. That changed during a debate hosted by WITF-TV and the League of Women Voters.

    During every forum and debate so far, the candidates have focused on themselves, and avoided criticizing their opponents’ policies and positions.

    That changed during a debate last night hosted by WITF-TV and the League of Women Voters.

    State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel had several exchanges, including a back-and-forth on whether Hoeffel would pledge to bar campaign contributors from winning state contracts or serving in his administration.

    Williams: “No one who supported my campaign will be on a board. And they’re not supporting me to get business. Nobody does that. So in your county, there are people who have gotten benefits by Joe Hoeffel arriving. And they knock on your door and say, hey Joe I want you to support me in this process. And they do.”

    Hoeffel: “And how would you know that, Tony? You’re just making stuff up. We’ve got a competitive process in Montgomery County that I want to take to the state level.”

    Hoeffel says he supports competitive bidding, but called Williams’ across-the-board ban on giving posts to donors “crazy.”

    The forum featured several such unscripted moments — like when host Nell McCormack Abom asked the candidates to name a mistake they had learned from.

    Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato couldn’t think of one.

    Onorato: “After six years of governing as an executive, if I had the luxury of hindsight, and could go back and change some things, knowing how they ended up, there’s probably a handful of things I would change. But overall, in sort of…”

    McCormack: “Pick one…”

    Onorato: “Let me think of an example. I mean I really don’t–I don’t have any regrets on it. I can’t think of one at this point in time.”

    Hoeffel said he regretted voting for President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law when he was in Congress.

    Auditor General Jack Wagner said he wishes he could go back and amend some of the bills he voted on while in the state Senate, specifically mentioning legislation that sent state resources to cyber and charter schools.

    Williams says he’d like to go back and put more accountability benchmarks into school funding legislation he supported.

    You can watch the full debate between the Democratic candidates for governor Friday, April 9 at 10:30 p.m. on WHYY-TV.

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