Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy and challenger Roger Hull went head-to-head in a mayoral debate on Sunday, which aired live on Time Warner Cable.
With the election just a few days away, this mayoral debate could prove crucial to the two candidates.
One of the major issues discussed was the revitalization of Schenectady.
Hull, the former president of Union and an Independent backed by the Republican Party, criticized McCarthy for his failures in refreshing the Electric City. In Hull’s eyes, too many streets are run down and do not give a good sense of what the city has to offer.
Hull stated, “You do not get a second chance to make a first impression. And people coming into Schenectady through those other routes do not have a very good first impression.”
In a theme familiar to those watching the debate, McCarthy was quick to respond that initiatives were being taken to help restore Schenectady’s image.
McCarthy said that work was being done not only in downtown, but throughout the whole city. He also noted, “We’re doing the demolition of the worst-of-the-worst property. We’re marketing housing opportunities within the neighborhoods.”
McCarthy, who claimed the city’s biggest issue is distressed property, made it clear the correct steps were being taken to address this issue. Hull found the biggest issue facing Schenectady to be crime. Citing drugs as a major issue, Hull explained, “We have a serious problem, we need more police on the street, I want to see more community policing.”
Hull stated to the audience that, “We’re the seventh most dangerous city in the state of New York. We have had a 74 percent increase in shootings, a 77 percent increase in drug-related crimes, an 84 percent increase in the percentage of people who were drug felons who committed a crime again.”
In an effort to have a larger police presence, Hull called for the removal of the safety commissioner position in order to open up more paid spots for city police.
He said, “We need more police on the street, and I want to see more community policing.”
This increase in a sense of safety, according to Hull, would lead to more people wanting to come to the city.
McCarthy quickly put down Hull’s claims, stating that “crime is down” in the city.
McCarthy then said that these “numbers” that Hull spoke of are hard to find.
To him, “The real solution is not just putting police on the streets, but it is more of a comprehensive approach that we’re doing in Schenectady.”
He believes “aggressive manner” to approaching crime has resulted in positive results.
Another topic of disagreement was the new casino.
McCarthy boasted that the casino would bring 1,200 new jobs to the city.
McCarthy said, “We’re very fortunate Rush Gaming is a real estate developer, so that they are in the casino business, but they see their role in a much bigger capacity within the city of Schenectady, where they want to cross-market with Proctors.”
Hull, while not a huge supporter of the casino, says he still would work with the new casino to help the city grow.
While disappointed that a larger number of jobs did not go to Schenectady citizens, he is ready to embrace it.
“The casino’s coming … Whether you were for it or opposed to it is irrelevant at this point. So what I would want to do is work to make it work.”
Hull ended the debate holding firm that he was the man for the job and wants to “lead the turnaround of Schenectady.”
McCarthy reflected on the last four years with “a sense of pride,” and hopes to continue his success in the next four years.
McCarthy barely beat Hull four years ago and hopes to win again come voting on Nov. 3.