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Binghamton Mayoral Candidates Clash Over Taxes, Crime and Development

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No issue was off the table Wednesday night when Binghamton mayoral candidates faced off in their first debate.

Democratic challenger Tarik Abdelazim accused Rich David of reaping the benefits of a strong budget inherited from the Matt Ryan administration and growth of the state pension fund while taking credit for federal and state-funded initiatives.

"There is no wizardry here. He is not the Harry Potter of local government finance." 

David called Abdelazim's account of his administration's achievements as "selective" and said his administration has had to repair relationships in Albany and the Regional Economic Development Council. 

"One of the things I need to do was rebuild that bridge and as a result, we have had tens of millions of dollars in state and federal grants."

But Abdelazim pointed to David's seat on Governor Cuomo's Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council as an example of "two sets of rules for two groups of people," and said it is important to that everyone has access to these types of benefits.

Both David and Abdelazim see Binghamton as a college town, but David accused the Ryan administration of making downtown student housing a priority at the expense of taxpayers.

"Since we have been in office, we have stopped supporting PILOTS or payment in lieu of taxes," said David who went on to add his administrations has other housing projects 

Candidates sparred over solutions to Binghamton growing crime rate and the opioid crisis. 

The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce hosted the debate, which was moderated by WNBF's Bob Joseph. Candidates were supplied the questions a week in advance.