Watertown mayoral candidates face off in 7 News debate

Updated: Oct. 29, 2019 at 3:45 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Watertown mayoral candidates had the chance to trade a few barbs in a 7 News debate Tuesday between candidates for Watertown mayor.

Facing off were candidates Allison Crossman, Cody Horbacz, and Jeff Smith.

The debate was pre-recorded Tuesday afternoon. It will air at 7 p.m. on Fox 28, Your North Country Fox. That’s channel 2 on Spectrum cable and channel 28 on most other services. It will also air on channel 7 at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The candidates were given 45 seconds each to answer questions from anchors Jeff Cole, John Moore, and Diane Rutherford.

In a discussion about Crossman's assertion that she voted in a city election in 2017 -- which she has since said was an unfortunate mistake -- both Smith and Horbacz said that since Crossman has run her campaign on transparency and honesty, it was fair to question her voting record.

Crossman said that it’s part of an effort “to push against the change that I would bring to the community.”

Smith said that it’s important for the public to know if they can “trust the next mayor to be open and honest and not come up with elaborate stories about what they’re going to do.”

Horbacz said he’s focused on the issues “and some of the antics that have been going on between my two opponents have really distracted from those issues.”

One exchange came during a discussion of city manager Rick Finn’s performance and whether the candidates would renew his contract.

"What I wouldn't do is fire somebody without ever working with them," Smith said, "which has been suggested by one of our opponents."

Crossman noted that Smith's comment was directed at her, but that she was referring not to Finn, but to city attorney Bob Slye.

"Although Mr. Slye is, of course, a talented attorney, he has served the city for some time and if we want to see a change in the city of Watertown, I believe that our council needs to have new representation to look at for their interpretation of the law."

As far as Finn’s performance, all three said it’s too soon to make a full evaluation.

Other questions focused on the safety commissioner position in the city’s new proposed charter, the city’s ongoing dispute with its firefighters union, funding for the Flower Memorial Library, keeping the zoo in Thompson Park viable, and what to when the city’s hydroelectric contract with National Grid expires.

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