SARATOGA SPRINGS -- As President Barack Obama signed a measure Tuesday to avoid a national debt default, a group of about 55 people came together on Broadway to debate political issues.
"I'm here because we need jobs in this country, and Obama has destroyed the ability of this country to provide them," said Helen Sciartelli, of Ballston Spa, who hoisted her sign that read "The GOP for Fiscal Sanity," in front of the Saratoga Springs office of U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook.
Sciartelli was joined by a group of about 15 other Gibson supporters, some of whom carried signs stating, "It's a start," in reference to Gibson's vote Monday in favor of the debt legislation.
Gibson supporters rallied in response to a demonstration organized by MoveOn, which claims Republicans are holding the economy hostage, forcing cuts to vital programs and protecting tax breaks for corporations and millionaires.
"There are good people standing here, but they're buying into the slogans," said Rosemarie Amendolia-Treanor, who was among a group of approximately 40 people protesting Gibson's policies.
"The screaming is continuing, and job creation is falling by the wayside," she said, expressing concern that rhetoric has replaced substance for both Democrats and Republicans.
"There are problems on both sides of what we call our two-party system," said Amendolia-Treanor, who added that Republicans have been hijacked by the Tea Party and that Democrats are guilty of being too willing to compromise.
"I don't agree with the Gibson people, but at the same time, we have to have a conversation," said local resident Larry Wies, who said he was laid off in January after working 25 years at St. Ann Institute in Albany.
At one point during Tuesday's demonstration, Wies attempted to initiate that conversation by venturing into the Gibson camp, where his presence was met by a loud rendition of "God Bless America," from Gibson supporters.
"Are you standing beside her? Are you kidding?" he asked, as the pro-Gibson group continued to sing and Wies was beckoned back by MoveOn supporters.
"I'm more with MoveOn than with Gibson, but MoveOn is missing the point. We need to have a conversation," he said.
City Police Lt. Michael Chowski met with MoveOn coordinator Susan Weber as the two groups came closer to one another on the sidewalk they shared. Accompanied by two city police officers, Chowski said he wanted to ensure civility.
He said that, under normal circumstances when two groups protest at the same time, they are designated positions on opposite sides of the street.
Because the rally on Tuesday was coordinated in haste, paperwork submitted by organizers that informed the city of the gathering was not filed, which resulted in both groups sharing the same sidewalk, Chowski said. No arrests were made.