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Mayoral Candidates Face Off in TV Debate

Challenger Michael Kearns and Mayor Byron Brown at WGRZ debate
Photo courtesy of WGRZ Television
Challenger Michael Kearns and Mayor Byron Brown at WGRZ debate

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The first and only mayoral debate was help this morning between incumbent Byron Brown and Democratic primary challenger Michael Kearns. The debate was sponsored by WGRZ Television and carried live on the station's website. The candidates traded jibes about everything from the One Sunset deal to crime and vacant housing.

Click the audio player above to hear Joyce Kryszak's story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.

Both candidates started out saying public safety would be their top priority as mayor. But salvos over the One Sunset controversy dominated the debate. Within minutes of opening remarks by the candidates, Brown accused Kearns of dirty politics. Kearns has made the failed restaurant deal, and a controversy surrounding its former owner Leonard Stokes, major campaign issues. Kearns says for that and many other reasons the sun has set on the Brown administration.

But Brown shot back that the failed restaurant and accusations that he helped Stokes avoid arrest are being misrepresented. Brown says recent reports prove he did nothing to help Stokes avoid fines for for having a stolen handicap parking tag. And he says the $110,000 loaned to Stokes by the city for One Sunset was a fraction of the nearly $7 million in loans invested in other businesses. Brown repeatedly said Kearns doesn't know what he's talking about.

On other issues, the candidates disagreed on the city's crime rate, though both say they would make cutting gang violence and crime priorities. They also disagreed about how well the city is dealing with the vacant housing problem and how best to combat it.

In conclusion, Brown says he stands by his record. Kearns says its not good enough. The candidates square off next in Tuesday's Democratic primary.