Cohoes mayoral candidates debate ahead of primary election

May 30, 2019 09:47 AM

COHOES – It was standing room only at the Cohoes Senior Center Wednesday night as four democratic candidates running for Mayor of Cohoes participated in a debate.

Each candidate had two minutes to introduce themselves, and one minute to answer questions. The debate got heated many times when talking about allegations against current Mayor Shawn Morse.

The candidates include retired New York State Police Major Bill Keeler, former city treasurer Peter Frangie, current City Councilman Steve Napier and then incumbent Shawn Morse. All of the men have strong ties to the city.

The candidates answered questions about economic growth, the Cohoes Community Center that closed last fall, and education. An audience member asked the candidates how they would improve public safety after three murders in the city in about six months.

“The City of Cohoes is one of the safest cities in the Capital Region,” said Mayor Morse. “While the FBI statistics will tell you that you can have 150 cops stand in front of that house, if there's a dispute in that house like what happened in the three cases there's nothing you'll be able to do. You have to look how we respond to crime.”

“First thing is you got to get politics out of the police department,” said candidate Bill Keeler. “Right now it's a concern. People are scared and that spills over into outside law enforcement.”

“We need to start as far down as code enforcement,” said candidate Peter Frangie. “We need to start understanding the level of standard we set for how absentee landlords are allowing to rent their properties.”

“My block by block program it incorporates code enforcement, DPW, police, fire all the assets of the city we need to cover to work together to address the need of neighborhoods block by block because you can't boil the ocean all at once,” said candidate Steve Napier.

However, the first question asked to candidates was in regards to the federal charges Morse is facing. He’s accused of using campaign contributions for personal expenses. He is scheduled to go to trial July 23. Morse also faced domestic abuse allegations, but was clear of any charges. Many of the candidates said character is important when it comes to being mayor.

“If I were the mayor today, and I were under indictment for seven federal charges, given the negative attention it brings to the city and the way it would negatively impact people who might look to Cohoes to bring investment dollars or development dollars or grant dollars I would step aside for the good of the city,” said Napier.

"I'm representing you, you’re paying me with your tax dollars and that's truly how we have to treat that,” said Frangie. “Whether or not I believe I'm innocent if I really truly feel that the city is being hurt by this then yes we should step aside."

"I didn't get into this race because of economic policy, I got into it because as a Cohosier I'm embarrassed by all these allegations,” said Keeler. “The mayor I think should step aside, he hasn't stepped aside he does have to go, but it's up to you folks to decide that. The Capital District is looking, our children are looking.”

"Through your life there will be people who want to drag you down, kick you down and make you be somebody that you're not,” said Morse. “Politics is the worst. It's right here, right in front of you. People who don't know me. People who have had to make allegations out of a newspaper. If they stood in my life and see the struggles I went through to save my family and at the same time never quit on anyone of you."

A candidate forum is scheduled for Monday, June 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cohoes High School. The primary will be held on June 25.


Emily De Vito

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