The four Democrats running for mayor of Cohoes debated for the second time Monday, three weeks before their pivotal primary.
Common Councilor Steve Napier, first-term Mayor Shawn Morse, former City Treasurer Pete Frangie and retired New York State Police Major Commander William Keeler appeared at Cohoes High. The League of Women Voters-sponsored event a week after the first debate at the Senior Center.
At a table onstage, all four candidates were more reserved than they were a week earlier, for the most part keeping within the one-minute response time allotted to each question posed by moderators. Cohoes High students asked questions and gathered additional ones from the 200-some audience members.
Questions during the two-hour forum covered a variety of topics that didn't surface at the candidates' last meet-up. Among them: "What would your administration do ensure full participation of city residents in the 2020 Census?"
Napier: "Make sure everyone knows how important it is that you be counted. And what the bottom line dollars are at risk by not being counted.
Morse: "If we can't count the right amount of people, we lose millions of dollars... and having a few months of dialogue with the community at large, bringing in organizations that help us teach people about the census, and getting out volunteering is vitally important."
Frangie said he'd press students into service. "Internships, internships, communication, internships. We can have legs and people on the ground doing this work with us, and get that accurate toll."
Keeler: "We wanna have an affirmative community outreach to ensure that we get an accurate count. We could post it on a website. We could disseminate it down to the neighborhood level to make sure nobody's missed."
- Watch the full forum HERE.
The candidates were asked what they would do to attract families to settle in Cohoes.
Napier: "The things that attract people to a community are good schools and affordable taxes and clean impressive neighborhoods.
Morse: "People are already attracted to our city, attracted to our city and the beautiful new downtown. The beautiful music hall. Our 'Rock the Block' concert series. The walkability of the community. If you noticed our new bike program. All these amenities in this small little community."
Frangie: "We're gonna create a better culture in our school district. Our youth will be more excited about the city. We're gonna have more stringent code enforcement. We're gonna have a cleaner city. A safer city."
Keeler: "The sidewalks need to repaired. They need to be replaced so we can have a truly walkable city. That will attract people. If we take care of the water line, if we pave the roads so that they're worthy of our vehicles, that will attract people."
Although it’s looking like recreational marijuana won't be legalized in New York this year, the candidates were asked if they would welcome a marijuana-based business in Cohoes.
Napier: "When legalized it's gonna be run like any other business with the regulations that come along with that, and so, sure, if somebody wants to come pay taxes in Cohoes as opposed to Colonie to run their business, I would be happy."
Morse says once pot is legalized, he doesn’t see how business could be turned away. "These businesses are regulated and their business is no different than any other business."
Frangie was on the same page: "The open sign is on and we will manage, we will oversee and we will help with those regulations. It's a viable business and as long as it's legal and regulated, absolutely."
Keeler was accepting but told the crowd that he is "...not in favor of legalization of recreational marijuana, but I don't think that's the question. I think the question is that if it's in fact legal, would I object to the business. No, I would not object to any legal business in Cohoes."
The Democratic primary is June 25th. Mayor Morse faces a federal corruption trial in July.