The race for Broome County Executive has been a fierce contest right from the start, with challenger Tarik Abdelazim calling out the current county executive time and again. Now, the democrat is taking aim at one of items in Debbie Preston's proposed budget. Our Melissa Kakareka has the latest issue at hand and how the county executive is responding.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The November election is just a month and a half away. And the tension between current County Executive Debbie Preston and her democratic challenger Tarik Abdelazim continues to grow as the vote gets closer.
"What he said is not true again and I've got a county to run," said Preston about the latest controversy.
"She uses all of her surrogates to do her attacks and I'm accused of being negative when I'm using facts," said Abdelazim about the campaign tone.
One of the latest issues on the campaign trail is the distribution of sales tax revenue in the county. Debbie Preston's budget address Monday night called for a gradual change to the way sales tax is distributed between the county and municipalities.
But at press conference Thursday, Abdelazim criticized the County Executive for moving ahead too slowly and says restoring the distribution should be done immediately. Abdelazim accuses Preston of delaying her 2011 campaign promise to restore the 50-50 split so that she could pad her budget.
"I believe Ms. Preston owes the public an explanation as to why she did not fulfill her promise, suddenly flip flopped on this important issue to her and passed this burden down to towns and governments," said Abdelazim.
In response, Preston's Deputy County Executive released the following statement saying, "Tarik Abdelazim should learn to read a budget. He's wrong yet again. Debbie Preston kept her promise by including a 10 percent increase in Sales Tax Revenue to our City, Towns and Villages in her budget, and we have a plan in place to complete the 50/50 restoration over the next several years. And we did it all with a zero percent County property tax increase."
Another issue causing controversy is the lack of debates between the two candidates.
So far, the two have only met face to face in one forum, during which the Chamber of Commerce limited video and audio recording.
"Let's talk about the issues, Meet me for debates in multiple venues multiple times that are free and open to the public," said Abdelazim.
Preston's Deputy County Executive said, "Debbie hit the ground running on day one and has kept up a vigorous schedule every day thereafter. She works 12-14 hour days for the people of Broome County. We will continue to give each scheduling request that comes our way the utmost consideration."