The Putnam Examiner

Carmel and Mahopac Residents Get Taste of Debate as Election Day Approaches

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Carl Albano and Scott Friedman drew the most attention during last Thursday’s debate.
Carl Albano and Scott Friedman drew the most attention during last Thursday’s debate.

With the general election nearing, Concerned Citizens of Carmel and Mahopac (CRCM) hosted its annual debate last Thursday, which saw a head-to-head battle between two District 5 legislator candidates.

Incumbent and Republican Carl Albano and challenger and Democrat Scott Friedman sparred for almost an hour during a debate that allowed citizens to ask the candidates questions about what issues were important to them. District 9 candidate Bernie Kosberg was also in attendance and took questions, though his adversary Kevin Wright couldn’t make it due to a personal reason.

From the start, Albano had to defend a lagging question about where he kept his residence and if he were eligible to run for District 5. While Albano said he rented a house out of the district for a temporary time, he checked with the appropriate officials to make sure it would not affect his standing as a legislator in that area, he said.

“Anyone’s welcome to come to my house and visit,” Albano said. “There are not games here.”

Friedman though, had a different tune and said that citizens in Carmel came to him and complained about Albano moving out. He called Albano’s temporary move “a personal insult.”

But like most topics, taxes and the county budget were the highlights during the debate. Friedman asserted if he were elected, he would rip apart the county budget “line-by-line”

“Let me tell you, there’s a lot of waste and there’s a lot of fat,” Friedman said. “And I promise to reduce your taxes.”

Meanwhile, Albano took a more reserved approach, stating the current proposed budget is a tight budget with little wiggle room. Unfunded mandates and union contracts make it difficult to lower taxes, he said.

“I’d love to tell you I would lower the taxes,” Albano said. “It’s not got going to happen. It’s a complicated world.”

Kosberg, a Democratic candidate, said it is widely known Putnam is a one-party county with little electoral challenge. He believes the election can change Putnam County government.

“I believe I have the conviction and the vision to lay an important role in this change,” Kosberg said.

Afterward, Kosberg said it was “disappointing” Wright wasn’t able to attend because if he were, it would have resulted in better dialogue with the issues.

Sheriff Don Smith also spoke, though he is running unopposed after knocking challenger Kevin McConville off the ballot in the primary election.

Jerry Ravnitzky, the organizer of the debate and president of CRCM said the event is important because many resident don’t know much about the candidates prior to the debate. He said the more residents are aware of the candidates, the better-informed decision they’ll be able to make come Election Day.

Ravnitzky also said he was impressed with moderator Greg Bunyea, who is a Mahopac senior and editor of the school newspaper and was content with how the night turned out.

“Our organization doesn’t endorse any candidate, doesn’t endorse any party and we want to produce a completely non-partisan, fair forum,” Ravnitzky said.

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