WATERTOWN — Allison I. Crossman was asked again about her voting record when the three mayoral candidates faced off against each other during a television debate that aired Tuesday night.
In recent days, Mrs. Crossman was criticized for never voting in a city election until she ran for mayor this year. She had claimed she voted in the 2017 election but records showed that she did not.
“It’s an unfortunate mistake on my part,” she said.
Her opponents, Councilman Cody J. Horbacz and former Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith, said it was a fair issue to bring up, since she has run on a campaign of transparency and integrity.
Both Mrs. Crossman and Councilman Horbacz, however, said it was time to focus on issues facing the city.
Councilman Horbacz called the episode of the last few days “the antics of my two opponents,” although he also criticized Mrs. Crossman for not being truthful about her voting record.
Mr. Smith said voters should 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.”
After submitting a Freedom of Information request, the Watertown Daily Times acquired the voting records of Mr. Smith and Councilman Horbacz from the Jefferson County Board of Elections.
Both candidates have extensive voting records.
However, it appears the councilman voted every time except in 2010, while the elections board provided information that showed Mr. Smith voted since 1998 but it’s “unknown” whether he did for the years of 1995 to 1997.
Unable to recall the other two elections, Mr. Smith insisted that he voted in 1995 because he would have voted for himself as a candidate for the old county Board of Supervisors.
While the voting issue came up, there were few other sparks during the 30-minute debate that aired on Fox 28 Tuesday night.
The three candidates also were asked about helping the financially-troubled New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, what to do about the loss of $4 million to $6 million in hydroelectric power revenues from National Grid and what they will do to repair the relationship with the firefighters’ union after a five-year contract dispute.
Mr. Smith accused Councilman Horbacz of allowing $1 million for legal bills on the labor dispute.
The councilman countered that he voted against two budgets because of the legal bills associated with the firefighters’ contract.
He also defended his executive session vote about appealing a court decision by saying it would stop future mayors from taking up the issue.
Mrs. Crossman said the city needs to negotiate on “fair terms.”
They were asked about whether City Manager Rick Finn’s contract should be renewed when it comes up next year.
Mrs. Crossman said it’s too early for her to decide.
Referring to the current council members firing former City Manager Sharon A. Addison after they were in office for a month, Mr. Smith said he would wait to see what their relationship was like before doing anything like that.
Councilman Horbacz wants to see how Mr. Finn mends the relationship with the fire department before deciding Mr. Finn’s future.
The debate was the third time the three candidates faced each other.
Voters will decide the nonpartisan race next Tuesday.