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Here are thumbnail sketches of the major party candidates, including their experience and thoughts about the issues most important to them. In addition, The News asked eachcandidate these two questions.

Are Newt Gingrich and the Republicans leading the country in the right direction?

Should there be any government recourse for people who lose benefits under welfare reform?

JACK F. QUINN, 45, (R,C,I,F)

Experience: Member of Congress, 1993-present, member of the Veterans Affairs and Transportation and Infrastructure committees; Hamburg town supervisor, 1982-92; Hamburg Town Board, 1981.

Issues: "My top priority is jobs and the economy, to continue to help places like the City of Buffalo. I think it's in our best interest, and in the region's best interest, to keep the things that we've got going alive: the money for more cops in the streets, money for Route 219 and other projects. I also have three bills -- on brownfields redevelopment, controlling explosives sales, and creating an inspector general for Medicare -- that I will be reintroducing."

Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress: "I'm a more moderate member of Congress, and that's the direction the country is headed and the Congress is headed. We're headed back toward the middle."

Lost welfare benefits: "For anybody that's going to be hurt, there is always going to have to be recourse. Government doesn't always get it right the first time. I'm open to reviewing all that stuff. But at the same time, everyone agreed that welfare needed changes. Is it perfect? Very little in life is perfect."

Experience: Assemblyman, 1983-present, chairman of the Assembly's Local Government Committee; Erie County legislator, 1980-82.

Issues: "I'd be looking to see what we could do to help working families, to eliminate corporate welfare, to keep education affordable, to maintain health care for all -- the blue-collar issues. I've also had a lot of experience with transportation; I understand those issues, and I believe that helping build the area's infrastructure is very important. . . . I haven't seen a lot of movement on those issues, but I would give them a high priority."

Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress: "I see fear in people's faces, but this time, it's not created by the mills closing down . . . but by Rep. Quinn and Speaker Gingrich creating calamities by cutting opportunity. When Quinn and Gingrich cut opportunity -- through gutting college loans, slashing Medicare and allowing corporations to raid our pensions -- they become the cause of economic insecurity."

Lost welfare benefits: "Government should do something to make sure that we're not abusing the children. . . . Job training is also something we have to provide."

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