Next Tuesday, Binghamton voters choose between Republican incumbent Rich David and Democrat Tarik Abdelazim for their next mayor.
WSKG’s Gabe Altieri talked with both of the candidates about issues that affect not only Binghamton, but communities throughout the Southern Tier.
Blight and Opioids:
When a property is foreclosed on, the county takes control, then auctions it off. Tarik Abdelazim doesn’t like this process. He says the people bidding on these properties are often slumlords who aren’t interested in revitalizing them. Abdelazim, instead, wants to move all the properties over to the land bank and only sell to landlords without code violations at their properties over the last two years.
Rich David doesn’t want blighted properties auctioned off to the highest bidder either, but he says the city can’t just end the auctions. The power to foreclose on these properties was transferred from the city to the county about ten years ago, when Abdelazim was deputy mayor.
During his first couple months in office, David made the move in his first couple months in office to equip police officers with Narcan. That essentially counteracts the effects of an overdose. He criticizes Abdelazim for not doing the same when he was deputy mayor. Abdelazim says that was early on in the addiction crisis, when it was still “in the shadows.”
Abdelazim wants Binghamton to join nationwide lawsuits in which municipalities are suing pharmaceutical companies. Broome County has already entered one. He says this isn’t for financial reasons, but rather to show support for the police and firefighters that are encountering overdoses frequently. David says Binghamton is part of Broome County, so it’s enough that Broome County is involved in the lawsuit.
Infrastructure and Flooding:
David is focused on paving and milling roads. David says his administration has refurbished about a third of the streets in the city.
Abdelazim says he wants look at the big picture. The city was built for about 80,000 people. It’s about half that now. So, Abdelazim wants to create ten-year plan tailored for the city’s current size and take inventory of Binghamton’s assets. He listed things like water lines, fleets of vehicles and recreational areas.
Abdelazim says the city’s flood maps aren’t up to date. Those indicate the risk of flooding to FEMA. Abdelazim says that could lead to higher insurance premiums for homeowners along the river.
David would like to update the flood walls, but that would cost millions, he says. He added that the cost of flood protection is an issue across the Southern Tier. He says it would take a while for the FEMA flood maps to change and accused Abdelazim of fear mongering.