Running on a platform of transparency, improved public safety and a break from the status quo, Rich David is up for election to the position of Binghamton mayor on Nov. 5.
David, the Republican mayoral candidate, received the nomination after winning 61 percent of the vote during the primary election.
David remains neutral on hydraulic fracturing, a highly contentious natural gas drilling process, saying that his opinion relies on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s findings in the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement.
“If the state comes back and says there are health and environmental concerns, then I don’t know how we could support it,” David said. “We don’t want to compromise public safety for money.”
However, he said the process has “enormous potential” if it is proven safe.
“It would create significant economic development opportunities in the area with regards to jobs and the influx of money into the area,” he said.
As one of his primary platforms, David aims to gradually increase the number of police by 20, returning numbers to its highest since 2005.
“I know from talking with students and talking with administration that safety is a primary concern right now for students,” he said. “There’s been a variety of assaults on students on the West side of the city as they walk to and from Downtown at various hours, and I’ve made fighting crime the cornerstone of my campaign.”
The Binghamton Police Benevolent Association has endorsed Rich David for his stance on crime.
In order to increase funding, David proposed City of Binghamton personnel cuts that would save $700,000. The cuts, which David claims could be “absorbed by the respective department without impacting services,” include communications director, deputy comptroller and assistant police chief.
David also plans to cancel a $1.2 million roundabout project scheduled to be built and Court and Exchange Streets, claiming it is “unsightly and unnecessary.”
Discussing the city’s relationship with Binghamton University, David praised the Southern Tier High Technology Incubator.
“The research they’re doing today will result in the jobs of tomorrow right here in Binghamton, and I am committed to working with President Stenger on that and other opportunities.” David said. “I know there’s talks of a pharmacy school, I’d love to see a law school. Whatever we can do to expand [Binghamton University’s] presence is something I would be supportive of.”
In 2000, Mayor Richard Bucci invited David to join his administration as director of community relations, where he handled media and communication operations. He was promoted to deputy mayor, which involved supervising day-to-day operations, working with City Council and developing the city budget.
“Who better to be in the mayor’s office than someone who’s been doing it themselves, or has done it themselves?” David asked.
David joined SUNY Broome Community College as the public affairs officer after leaving City Hall. In 2006, he founded Confluence Enterprises Inc. to invest money into Binghamton, spending more than $800,000 so far. Investments have included the renovation of 45 Court St. and two businesses on State Street, Terra Cotta Catering and Flashbacks/Paradigm.
“As a private sector small business owner, I am very familiar with the challenges businesses face,” David said. “I speak the language, so to speak, and I am someone who is investing in the community. I know how to work with other entrepreneurs.”
According to David, Binghamton City Hall is not very business-friendly, which he says is negatively affecting the area.
“I can tell you from conversations with fellow small business owners, developers and investors, and in order to move our economy forward, we need to create and sustain an environment which will attract business and attract jobs,” David said.
He promoted making City Hall more “user-friendly,” in regards to permit approval, zoning and planning.
David received his bachelor’s degree in communications and political science in 1998 from St. John Fisher College before becoming a broadcast journalist at WBNG channel 12. A 2002 Binghamton University alumnus, he got his master’s degree in public administration while working in the mayor’s office.
As a former journalist, David promises increased transparency, inviting reporters to speak with him and his administration directly.
“I think the media should be able to come in freely and talk to the mayor or department heads on any issues they want on any point in time,” he said.