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Voice of the Voter: The Monroe County Executive Candidates Square Off

The three candidates for Monroe County Executive covered a broad range of topics in Monday night's Voice of the Voter debate seen and heard on WXXI-TV and Radio as well as online.

Voice of the Voter is a  collaboration among WXXI Public Broadcasting, the Democrat and Chronicle, 13WHAM-TV and WDKX 103.9

One of the issues that came up during the debate was the controversial Local Development Corporations.

The county created LDCs for different projects which officials have said saved taxpayers money, but the structure ended up being the focus of  allegations and charges involving bid rigging.

One question asked by a local resident through Twitter asked about how the candidates, Democrat Sandy Frankel, Republican Cheryl Dinolfo and Green Party candidate Rajesh Barnabas would clean up county government.

Dinolfo says she already has a plan in mind, saying that “I have a forward looking integrity agenda that I announced back in January, and that is, number one, to eliminate all LDCs, to put county contracts online and to have an office of public integrity."

But Frankel doesn't think LDCs can be eliminated so quickly.

"Cheryl acts as if you can snap your fingers and make them disappear, that's naive and dangerous  I won't endanger the taxpayers by acting too quickly but will do it with judicious action. "

Barnabas has problems with the track records of both of the major political parties.

"I don't trust the ethics of  Republicans or Democrats, there's malfeasance among the Democratic hierarchy as well."

One question that came from a local resident through Twitter during the debate asked:

“Would the candidates consider using the county's fiber network for a municipal internet network for the public? If no, why not?"

Barnabas’ response was, “Heck yeah. I'm all about bridging the digital divide.We need a fiber system that's not just going into the rich areas of town to increase the digital divide. We need to get poor people connected."

Democrat Sandy Frankel also approved of the concept, saying that, “We need to see that our kids in the city school district in particular have that resource available to them, and people in the community need that. It's a public service and something that I think would be appropriate."

Republican Cheryl DiNolfo would create an intermediary. "I think this is an excellent opportunity to work with a public/private partnership to use a system that we already have in place, to expand use of the internet and to provide that opportunity for everybody here in Monroe County."

Other topics the candidates squared off on last night included taxes, child care, poverty and education.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.