After considering both Republican incumbent Rich David and Democratic challenger Tarik Abdelazim’s platforms, the Editorial Board has decided to endorse Abdelazim for mayor of the city of Binghamton.
Although we acknowledge that David has created positive change for Binghamton in areas of business and housing blight, Abdelazim has shown since July that he’s capable of putting together a compelling, progressive campaign for the betterment of Binghamton.
Abdelazim has received endorsements from over 20 local unions, demonstrating support from local citizens of a variety of professions. Additionally, he has significant experience working in community development on a national scale: his experience as program advisor of national technical assistance for the nonprofit organization the Center for Community Progress, where he worked with cities similar to Binghamton in improving vacant and abandoned properties, has prepared him well for challenges he’d face as mayor. His time in this position earned him national recognition as an innovator of healthier neighborhoods.
On the subject of job creation, Abdelazim was selected to serve on the Energy Workgroup on the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council in 2011 to help bring clean energy jobs to the area, and his work helped create Southern Tier Solar Works.
Furthermore, Abdelazim made it a major point of his campaign to connect and listen to the community at large, which includes Binghamton University students. He has become involved with organizations like Generation Vote and the Broome County Young Democrats, and is effectively mobilizing not only BU students, but young people across Broome County.
While we acknowledge that David has made strides to help local businesses during his tenure, he’s also been the subject of criticism. In September, David’s official Facebook page changed newspaper headlines to paint his opponent in a negative light. The Editorial Board feels this was unethical, and it left a bad taste in the mouths of potential voters; we should be able to trust that our leaders are not skewing the news to work in their favor.
Additionally, David voiced his support for the installation of blue-light systems on the West Side of Binghamton. David’s other decisions during his mayoral term, like his plan to spend $700,000 to install 22 license plate readers, have been criticized by constituents. People have wondered whether or not this is completely necessary, asking if the money could have been spent to better the community in other ways.
The Editorial Board feels that David’s response to crime in Binghamton involves expensive action after the fact, while Abdelazim’s campaign is rooted in community development across neighborhoods to stop the cycle of crime before it begins through initiatives such as his youth-investment plan, Project J.O.Y.
Overall, we support Abdelazim because he has important experience working in cities like Binghamton, and because of his engagement with the community. His ability to mobilize the citizens of Binghamton effectively proves that he has the tools and the vision to incite positive change in the city of Binghamton.
Many of us are citizens of Binghamton — or spend much of our time within city limits — and we have the power to elect someone who is qualified and equipped to do great things for this city. Abdelazim has made it a point to connect with us; let’s use our power to help him emerge with a victory in this election. Abdelazim can work for all of us.