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Troy Mayoral Candidates Debate Crime, City Finances

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The three major party candidates for mayor of Troy debated crime, city finances, and infrastructure on Wednesday. The candidates also got the opportunity to ask questions to each other in what has been a highly politicized campaign season.

Candidates Patrick Madden, Rodney Wiltshire, and Jim Gordon met in a debate hosted by Time Warner Cable News. Independent candidate Jack Cox did not participate.

After delivering their opening statements, the candidates were asked about community policing and gun violence – just days after a late-night brawl between bar patrons and police, and following a summer incident where two cops were injured in a fatal shootout.

Gordon, a Republican who sits on the city council, said he wants to see more a comprehensive approach to policing, which would include stepping up code enforcement. He also would like to see more undercover work to address the surge in gun violence.

“Find the community guns, kind of infiltrate into these community organizations: the underbelly, if you will. They say it’s a small group of people, but we can’t crack that nut, because we’re not deploying the proper services to do so,” said Gordon.

City Council President Wiltshire, who has the Working Families Party line after a close loss to Madden in the Democratic primary, wants to put more beat cops on the street and says he will negotiate a new contract agreement with city police. He said he would try to foster a “respect for life” in the city.

“I believe that we need to work with the organizations in our city, the churches, that exist here that are going about and reaching these young people especially, and let them know that this is not something that is tolerable, this is not something that they should be engaged in, and this is something they should be pushing against,” said Wiltshire.

The Democratic Party-backed Madden said Troy is not alone as a city that faces gun violence and that city government needs to do more than support community efforts.

“The city ought to be entwining in those efforts with its own efforts, so whether it’s the police academy or other things that give children an option other than hanging out on the streets, other than leading to gun violence,” said Madden.

Troy is facing a 9.3 percent property tax increase under the municipal budget proposed by outgoing Democratic mayor Lou Rosamilia, who’s not seeking another term. The candidates discussed ways they could keep costs under control.

Wiltshire called the hike unsustainable and would call on city government to become more efficient but also find ways to increase revenue.

“So enhancing our recycling; that’s something that can bring more money into the city. Making sure we enforce our parking tickets and have a parking authority that actually operates, especially as our business districts are trying to grow,” said Wiltshire.

Madden said he would plan for longer-term budgeting and to look for economies of scale with surrounding municipalities. He said he would also ask city residents what services they would be willing to sacrifice if necessary.

“My view is that we share with the community the state that we’re in, and we lay the options on the table and let the community make the decisions. And then the mayor and the administration execute those decisions,’ said Madden.

Gordon said he would perform an “autopsy” on the city’s finances and find ways to stop unnecessary spending. He said city government has made some attempts to work with surrounding municipalities in the past that went nowhere.

“We’ve had those conversations, they were turned away. Those other agencies were looking to partner on vehicles. Those other agencies were willing to partner on other items. It’s about leadership and priorities and actually understanding what’s happening in city government,” said Gordon.

The candidates were also allowed to ask each other questions. Wiltshire directed a question to Madden about negative campaign attacks.

Madden responded. 

“Going negative against people is not part of my character, never has been. It’s not an area where I’m comfortable, and we have stood by that.”

Madden asked Wiltshire to address a budget gap in last year’s city budget that was passed by default. Wiltshire said he’s been pushing to close the gap and that the budget gap came as a shock.

“We have not wished it away, we have not pretended it away. And we have had finance committee meetings where we’ve had the presentations by the comptroller’s office showing us where our revenues and our expenses are on,” said Wiltshire.

Gordon asked Madden about the financial health of the Troy Rehabilitation & Improvement Program – the organization Madden oversees. Gordon asked about more police calls to the properties.

Madden said the organization is in good shape and defended the company’s tenant screening process.

“It is not perfect, we are humans. We do have situations arise. We do work very closely with the police department to stamp those down,” said Madden.

Election day is November 3rd.  Audio is courtesy of Time Warner Cable News.

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