BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - With election day less than three weeks away, Mark Gladney, the Democratic candidate for the 4th Congressional District seat, has his sights set on incumbent Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo.
Flanked by veterans, Gladney spoke to the press Wednesday at the gates of the VA in Biloxi.
"We have no serious representation of our veterans and their needs, their medical needs," Gladney said. "Our current Rep. Steven Palazzo, during the Veterans Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016, refused to even vote either yea or nay. He voted abstained, which means he wouldn't even take a stand one way or the other. He did this along party lines. This act in itself, which at the surface looks like it could be good, it's really not. It complicates the appeals process for our veterans. It makes it more difficult to receive the medical care that they so rightly deserve and need."
Jill Duckworth, communications director for Palazzo, responded via email to this statement saying Palazzo did not abstain from this vote or any other vote. During that vote, he was not in Washington, D.C. due to a family member's serious medical emergency.
"Regardless of our opponent's lack of facts, Congressman Palazzo supports this bill and would have voted yes on it, because it is yet another step in allowing the VA to fire bad employees, protects whistle blowers from retaliation, and reforms their broken disability appeals process. The bill passed overwhelmingly 310-116. Unfortunately, 116 Democrats all voted against this legislation beneficial to our veterans, which has sadly become a trend of the democrat party in Congress," Duckworth said.
Gladney also pointed to veterans, saying Palazzo is not there to serve his district. He called him "Palazzo dodger."
"Rep. Palazzo dodges everything. He dodges his constituents, continually refusing to come down and even have town hall meetings, doing things from conference calls. He dodges hard decisions that might violate or go against his party lines. He dodges simple things, like debates, because he's been offered to debate me both by the University of Southern Mississippi, which we are both alumni of, and the League of Women Voters," Gladney said.
That debate at USM has been scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m., according to Aaron Barksdale, Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Mississippi. Both Gladney and Libertarian candidate Ric McCluskey have agreed to take part in the debate.
At this time, Palazzo and Reform Party candidate Shawn O'Hara have not announced whether they will attend.
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.