BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Parkside Community Association held the second Buffalo Mayoral Debate on Thursday, August 22, 2013 at St. Mary's School for the Deaf.
Brian Meyer of the Buffalo News served as moderator, and News 4's Rachel Kingston fielded questions from the audience directed towards Democratic incumbent Byron Brown, Democratic challenger Bernie Tolbert and Republican challenger Sergio Rodriguez.
Watch the video with this story to see the debate in full. Rachel Kingston's report on the debate is below:
All three candidates came out swinging Thursday night. The question questions came directly from people who live in the city - the people whose lives will be directly impacted by the outcome of this election.
Not surprisingly, the crisis facing Buffalo's public education system took center stage in Thursday's mayoral debate.
Buffalo devotes half of property tax revenue to the schools, yet the Mayor and Common Council have virtually no say in running them. The question: should that change?
Bernie Tolbert said, "We have nine school board members. Six elected in the[ir] district[s]; I suggest that the other three should be appointed by the mayor. Also the option of the mayor having the ability to appoint the superintendent."
Byron Brown said, "We were able to come up with $400,000 to restore music programs to the Buffalo Public Schools. We have hired school resource officers to make the schools safer."
Sergio Rodriguez said, "We should seek nothing less than full mayoral control over the education system."
Mayor Brown's opponents attacked the incumbent, over his campaign ads touting "progress," economic development and job creation.
"There is over $1.7 billion of economic development activity taking place right now in Buffalo. And the mayor's office has been involved in some way, shape or form with all of the development," Brown said.
Tolbert countered, "Tell me where it is! I don't see it. I don't see it, standing on the corner where I live. I don't see it in my neighborhood."
Rodriguez added, "The communities in the East Side and the West Side of Buffalo are the ones that are hurting the most, from the lack of employment. In fact, folks, our employment base has been reduced by over 10,000 people since the Mayor got elected."
...and over crime and policing.
"Right now, under the current administration, gun-related homicides have increased," Rodriguez argued,
Tolbert added, "The number one responsibility of any government is public safety. That's something that we must do."
Brown countered, "Our police department has done a very good job in combating quality of life crime. We will continue to work on that."
Buffalo Police have arrested 26-year-old Nicholas Finnegan of South Buffalo and charged him with pushing Russ Ross to his death.
The Niagara County Sheriff's responded to Saunders Settlement Road near Comstock in Cambria Friday night after receiving a tip about a suspected meth lab.
Police say there were 32 burglaries, 20 in Albion, five in Medina, four in Oakfield and three in the City of Lockport.
Firefighters had to withdraw from a smoky fire in Blasdell at a multi-dwelling home on South Park Avenue Friday night because the flames were so intense.
Call 4 Action looked into claims this week that members of BJ's Wholesale Club were paying too much on sales tax on some deeply discounted items.
State Police in Pennsylvania are investigating an alleged pedophile pastor already facing charges in Western New York.