Buffalo's three mayoral candidates came together to debate for the first time this year. YNN's Ryan Whalen has a recap.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Public education has become the dominant issue in Buffalo this summer. Each candidate at Wednesday's debate had a different opinion about the level of involvement the mayor should have in turning city schools around.
"The city gives $70 million to the Board of Education, should have a seat at that table," said Bernie Tolbert, D-mayoral candidate.
"I will be seeking mayoral control over the education system. This is a model that works in New York City and the city of Yonkers," said Sergio Rodriguez, R-mayoral candidate.
"The mayor does not have the ability to demand anything currently under the present configuration of the schools. I have sought to partner with the schools in every single way that we can," said Mayor Byron Brown, D-Buffalo.
Like with education, the mayor says he's dedicated resources to public safety. He and his challengers continue to debate the policies and whether crime is truly down.
"You've seen the drug raids that we've done. The criminals should be afraid in the City of Buffalo because we are going after them, we're knocking their doors down and we're taking them away," Brown said.
"I've lived ten years on my street and I've never once seen a police officer walk the beat," said Rodriguez.
"No criminal is going to turn in his gun or her gun to the police when they can get much more for it on the street," Tolbert said.
While the candidates were for the most part civil Wednesday night, each snuck in a jab or two over the hour-and-a-half debate.
"For the administration to claim that crime has gone down, I say well maybe dognapping has gone down but shooting and crimes are up," Rodriguez said.
"Really what I'm doing right here, is sitting between stereo wrong information. It's wrong over here and it's wrong over here," said Brown.
"I am very thankful for the fact that our credit rating has improved, and I want to thank the CONTROL BOARD for getting that done," said Tolbert.
The debate was hosted by the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists.
Nearly eight years since the city elected its first black mayor, all three candidates discussed how a racial socioeconomic gap still exists in Buffalo.