Kingston mayor candidates debate

Large audience on hand to listen to Noble, left, and Rua

KINGSTON – Incumbent Democratic Kingston Mayor Steven Noble and his SAM opponent, business owner and CPA, Vince Rua went head to head over community submitted questions at a Thursday evening debate.

The fiscal responsibility of the county proved to be a major focus of the debate and highlighted where the starkest difference in policy and perspective laid between the two candidates.

Both candidates held firmly to the policies they have been promoting since recent debates.

Republican/Independence Party candidate Ellen DiFalco did not attend the forum.

Noble, having served in Kingston government for many years prior to becoming mayor, continued promoting his support of beautifying the city, keeping city taxes from increasing, maintaining the fiscal health of the city, acquiring unprecedented amounts of grant funding for various community and infrastructure projects and keeping the push toward having the community be involved in their government; all of which are claims to his first tenure as mayor.

Rua claims the city government has been fiscally irresponsible, misrepresented assessment values and tax rates, borrowed more than they can handle and have an approximately 80 percent unpaid debt, which makes them considered to be distressed.

“87 million is what we are potentially looking at paying off. We have $100 million that we can borrow,” said Rua. “Elliot Auerbach just released a report of 20 municipalities that are over 80 percent of their debt limit, they’re called distressed.”

Mayor Noble replied that not only is Kingston in the best fiscal health compared to other cities in the Hudson Valley; but, claims these numbers are made up.

“One of the things I just want to be really clear about is we are not fiscally distressed,” said Noble.  “We are not even close to that made up number that Mr. Rua keeps on talking about. If we were, we wouldn’t have a fiscal stress score of 6.7 out of 100. We also wouldn’t have the New York State Comptroller talking about how great Kingston is doing because we’re not anywhere near these numbers.”

Rua’s main position, aside from being more prudent with grant qualifications and actual acquisition of funds, is to make a vacant industrial park a residential/commercial area. Part of the area would be dedicated tiny housing, where residents could own, rather than rent and possibly sell up later on for the same cost as renting in the first place. The other part of the area he claims he could have a handful of businesses occupying, each having 50-100 employees making higher than minimum wage rates in the trades, within four years.

Both candidates agree on the importance of community policing, LGBTQ rights, promotion of the city’s arts community, supporting the ETPA, (however, Rua has a few caveats with that endorsement), addressing vacant buildings within the city and being more strict with code enforcement on “real estate squatters.”

Republican/Independence Party candidate Ellen DiFalco did not attend the forum.

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