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Douglas L. Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate for the 23rd Congressional District, showed no grasp of the bread-and-butter issues pertinent to district residents in a Thursday morning meeting with the Watertown Daily Times editorial board.


In a nearly hour-long session, Mr. Hoffman was unable to articulate clear positions on a number of matters specific to Northern New Yorkers rather than the national level campaign being waged in a three-way race for the vacant seat of now-Army Secretary John McHugh.


Mr. Hoffman spoke only generally about the need to improve the country's economy and to create jobs but provided no details, which were also lacking as well in his broadly stated willingness to help our military personnel. Help in what way he could not say.


Regarding the proposed rooftop highway across the top of the district linking Watertown to Plattsburgh, Mr. Hoffman said only that he was open to studying the idea that has been around for years and will require federal financial assistance to complete.


Mr. Hoffman had no opinion about winter navigation and widening the St. Lawrence Seaway with their potential environmental damage. He was not familiar with the repercussions of a proposed federal energy marketing agency for the Great Lakes, which could pay for Seaway expansion contrary to district interests.


A flustered and ill-at-ease Mr. Hoffman objected to the heated questioning, saying he should have been provided a list of questions he might be asked. He was, if he had taken the time to read the Thursday morning Times editorial raising the very same questions.


Coming to Mr. Hoffman's defense, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, who accompanied the candidate on a campaign swing, dismissed regional concerns as "parochial" issues that would not determine the outcome of the election. On the contrary, it is just such parochial issues that we expect our representative to understand and be knowledgeable about, if he wants to be our voice in Washington.

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