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Quick Summary: Race For Mayor Of Schenectady

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PATRICK DODSON / DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
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It’s the final day of campaigning in Schenectady, where voters will decide to keep sitting Mayor Gary McCarthy in office or replace him with former Union College president Roger Hull.

Hull lost to McCarthy in a close 2011 race by a mere 89 votes. A lot has changed in four years.

If you ask McCarthy, a Democrat, he'll tell you those years have been good ones.   "I look back at the last four years with a sense of pride."

Back in May, McCarthy remarked on some of the accomplishments of his first term. “First was rethinking and better coordinating our code enforcement efforts to deal with distressed buildings; second was to initiate the Homes Program – home ownership made easy in Schenectady; and third was the continuing support of our unified economic development team headed by Metroplex.”

Hull, the Alliance Party founder who is backed by the GOP, wants to see changes made. Neighborhoods and Metroplex are two campaign issues he's often touched on, saying neighborhoods have been “totally forgotten” over the past eight years, and imagining a redesign of Metroplex, taking it toward a more neighborhood-oriented mission.

Debating on Time Warner Cable, Hull said, save for the State Street corridor, many neighborhoods reflect poorly on the city.  "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."

MCarthy says he is working on neighborhood growth and development. "And we are creating opportunities not only in downtown, but throughout the city."

During a September forum at Proctors Theater hosted by the New York League of Conservation Voters, Hull said his top environmental issue would be addressing sewage being discharged into the river from the city's wastewater treatment plant. "53 million gallons. Now, you may hear later on that the city is able to treat 98.9 percent of the sewer through the waste treatment plant. The number sounds good, but the more dramatic number is the 53 million gallons that are dumped into the Mohawk."

McCarthy countered that the wastewater plant has held up against other facilities in the region during major storms.

Both candidates are pro-recycling:  Hull again invoked neighborhoods, arguing that "the best way to change it is to engage everyone in the process."   "The easiest part of the environment to control, namely trash, I would like to do that. And in terms of an issue that I would immediately turn to, as something I would like to put in place, would be single-stream recycling."

McCarthy says the city is currently collecting data on traffic patterns, which can also be used to help better coordinate collecting garbage and recyclables. "Those things would be factored in with our code enforcement, our policing, and just improving the overall quality of life in this community."

Hull has a package of reforms including eliminating the public safety commissioner position to pay for putting four additional police officers on the beat.  McCarthy says crime is down; local policing has been successful.

The candidates are in agreement that current education funding formulas don't channel enough money to Schenectady, and the fix lies in developing better working relationships with state lawmakers.

Several factors are making McCarthy appear strong on the eve of the election, including endorsements by Congressman Paul Tonko and the Albany Times Union and Schenectady Gazette.

Another potential; factor:  the coming Rivers Casino with its promise of 1,200 jobs and cross-marketing opportunities. Hull wonders how taxes will shake out once the casino is functional, and just what the overall effect will be.   "I would have preferred that we make sure that of those 1,200 jobs that are coming, a percentage were guaranteed for people in the city of Schenectady. "

Voters have their say Tuesday.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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