Three candidates running for mayor of Troy met Tuesday night for a debate. The discussion involved the first-term mayor, a returning rival, and a newcomer.
Mayor Patrick Madden, a Democrat, is seeking a second four-year term. Though he was defeated in the Democratic primary in June, former City Council President Rodney Wiltshire is still running on third-party lines against Madden in a rematch. Republican Tom Reale is a new challenger. The trio met at the Lansingburgh Boys & Girls Club, for the forum hosted by the Lansingburgh Neighborhood Association.
In his opening remarks, Madden sought to be realistic and transparent about the city’s finances, which he says are improving after several years on the brink.
“We presented and passed three balanced budgets. We addressed all the state comptroller’s concerns. Our fiscal risk rating decreased three years in a row. We earned two consecutive Moody’s credit upgrades. We pay our bills on time – as well as the deferred payments to the pension fund. We’ve begun investments in our infrastructure. And though we are not out of the woods yet, there is still much that remains to be done, but we are on the right path,” said Madden.
Reale, who touted his experiences in the military, portrayed the race as about delivering city services.
“Making sure that our parks and recreation, our pools, are open for our children to use. Making sure our roads are clear of snow, clear of potholes and able to be used on a regular basis. Making sure that our police and fire have exactly what they need in order to perform their job properly. And making sure that our solid waste pickup runs smoothly and without major hiccups,” said Reale.
Wiltshire, who lost to Madden in the primary for the second time in June, took aim at the incumbent throughout the debate. Wiltshire pointed to his experience in business as an electrician.
“I fix things. I install things. And I build and design things. Our city is broken. Our city is in a situation where we need fixing. And for the last four years, we have seen someone who has bragged about doing their job: they’re showing up for work and they are getting it done. But the rest of the city is seeing a different tale, the tale of two cities,” said Wiltshire.
The most popular topic of the debate, in which all questions were submitted by the public, was Troy’s closed pools. Here’s Reale speaking to Madden.
“You and your administration said back during the wintertime that the South Troy Pool would be open by July 1st. July 1st came and went and the pool was not open. Then it was going to be open sometime this summer. This summer has come and gone and the pool is not open,” said Reale.
Another city-owned pool in the Lansingburgh neighborhood remains closed as the administration envisions re-siting the pool in Knickberbacker Park.
Wiltshire attacked Madden for the delay in re-opening the South Troy Pool, and disputed the amount of work needed for the pool in Lansingburgh.
“It’s very basic. You hire competent people to do the work. You hire the local building trades. You hire the local companies that were making themselves available, some at no cost to the taxpayers, that said ‘I will do this for free. Let me throw a sign up.’ Or ‘This is my give-back to the communities.’ Those were options that were on the table four years ago, three years ago, two years ago, and this year itself that were overlooked,” said Wiltshire.
Madden defended the work being done on the pools, describing the facilities as needing significant upgrades.
“Yes, it was delayed a year. But in the long run the kids will be appreciative of the fact that it will be here in 10, 15, 20 years, as opposed to what might have happened if we had just thrown a coat of paint on it. Those pools were dangerous. I would not put my children in them. I went down and looked at them. That’s, I guess, the difference between us. I didn’t rely on a report. I went down and looked at them. And when I looked at them, it frightened me,” said Madden.
Later in the debate, the mayor was asked to address the case of Edson Thevenin, a Troy man who was killed by a city police officer in 2016 during a traffic stop. Protests have been held, as recently as last week, accusing the administration of covering up the details of the shooting.
Madden, in his first public remarks since it was revealed that a memo was compiled disputing the findings of an internal report on the case, said there has been no cover-up, as protesters in the audience shouted and held up signs.
“That was a tragedy of epic proportions…”
“It wasn’t a tragedy, it was murder!”
“OK, good. I am committed to making sure that that goes through the court. It is winding its way through the courts right now. We are doing everything we can to make sure that happens as expeditiously as possible. I know we’re not going to please everybody. I know people have come to conclusions before the facts are out. I would ask people to be patient and wait for the facts to come out. We will share all of the information we have in the court and then with the conclusion of the court case,” said Madden.
Reale, then Wiltshire, urged the mayor to release more information.
“And it would be best for the community of Troy if we get every single piece of information out there for people to scrutinize. We also need to have a reinvigoration of our police objective review committee that should have been going over all of this from day one,” said Reale.
“If you lie about the pools, and you make promises and you push things that aren’t the pools, how can we sit here and believe anything that you’re saying,” asked Wiltshire.
The candidates also discussed supporting public safety services, morale among city hall workers, and the governing styles of President Donald Trump and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Election Day is November 5th.