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Fri., Oct. 9
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Four City Council candidates discuss government’s role in third forum


Much like the rest of this fall’s campaign, Friday night’s City Council candidate forum at Immaculate Heart Central High School produced few, if any, sparks.

The event with the four candidates — incumbents Jeffrey M. Smith and Teresa R. Macaluso and political newcomers Cody J. Horbacz and Stephen A. Jennings — lasted just about an hour, so the 25 government students who attended could go outside to watch IHC’s sectional football game against Skaneateles.

Even moderator John Moore of WWNY-TV7 joked about ending the debate so participants could watch the game. Only seven questions were asked by the students and fewer than 10 other people attended the forum.

As in a previous forum, the four candidates discussed their vastly different views on city government.

Mr. Jennings maintained his stance that the city should become involved in cleaning up troubled neighborhoods plagued by deteriorating housing stock, drugs and crime.

Ms. Macaluso and Mr. Smith both reiterated that such issues are not the city’s business.

“It’s not the role of city government,” Mr. Smith said, adding that charitable organizations and county government should take on those responsibilities.

But Mr. Jennings insisted the city could become a leader in working with law enforcement, schools, Jefferson County officials and others to help solve the city’s problems.

“I hear from these incumbents that they can’t and shouldn’t,” he said. “I think we should do what we can.”

For the first time in these forums, Mr. Jennings was asked why he believes fluoride should remain in the city’s water supply. He said it has been proven by the scientific community that fluoride helps fight cavities.

The other three candidates answered in varying ways that they have not made up their minds on the issue. Mr. Smith said it was “worth revisiting” to see if the tasteless, colorless chemical should be in public water.

“It will be a long time before the council decides,” Ms. Macaluso said.

Mr. Horbacz just said he is not sure whether fluoride should be ingested because some people believe it is not safe.

One student asked Mr. Horbacz whether he thinks dogs should be allowed at city events.

A supporter of a local dog park, Mr. Horbacz called the council-approved ordinance that prohibits dogs at events on city property “a knee-jerk reaction” to an August 2011 incident in which a toddler was attacked by a dog at the Watertown Farm and Craft Market on Washington Street.

“It was an isolated incident,” he said.

The other three candidates said they believe the City Council made the right decision. Ms. Macaluso called it “a restriction, not a ban.”

Although the candidates actively have been campaigning, it has been a lackluster race. The top two vote-getters in the Nov. 5 election will win the open council seats.

The four candidates will come together again at a meet-the-candidates luncheon, sponsored by the Women’s Council of Realtors, on Thursday at the Italian-American Civic Association. It also will include candidates for Jefferson County clerk and the legislatures of Jefferson and Lewis counties.

After the lunch, all candidates will be introduced and have three minutes to talk about their experience, background and reasons they are seeking office.

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