RYE, N.Y. -- Westchester County Executive candidate Noam Bramson addressed questions on Playland and campaign ads during a candidate forum at The Osborn senior living community in Rye.
The forum was intended to include both Bramson and his opponent, incumbent, County Executive Rob Astorino. After issuing invitations to both campaigns, Astorino's had to cancel. According to Tom Lavan of The Osborn's Civic Affairs Committee, the policy is that if the candidates are invited, the program will be held with whoever appears.
After Bramson addressed the crowd of about 50 seniors, they asked him questions about issues such as Sustainable Playland Inc.'s plan to renovate Playland Amusment Park in Rye. Bramson said he is open to restructuring the park and bringing in new management, but that the action would require sensible decision-making.
"I think that unfortunately the process that's been employed up to now has been badly broken," Bramson said. "The county has yet to articulate clearly its goals in terms of annual attendance, in terms of financial independence for the park."
Bramson said the county has not provided independent expert analysis of the various proposals, and if attendance will increase as a result of changes. He said he wouldn't want to start from scratch with the process if elected.
"But I do think we need to re-balance the process and have some clear standards, and I do think we need to bring some expert analysis to bear, so we have a better understanding of the costs, the benefits and the risks of each proposal in front of us."
He also said that disagreements between the County Executive's office and the Board of Legislators over what parts of the deal the BOL has to approve has increased, the difficulty of improving the park. He compared the partisan fighting to the situation in Washington, and said that it could slow the process down.
"In my opinion, the likelihood of all this being wrapped up by the end of this year is extremely small," he said.
If elected, he said it's possible the issue would still be ongoing when he would take office in January.
Bramson said that Astorino's campaign ads attacking him have been a combination of "out-and-out lies" and "statistics that may be nominally true, but are taken out of context to leave a very misleading impression."
An example of the latter, he said, were ads that claimed he raised taxes 109 percent in New Rochelle. Bramson said that figure was over the course of his 18-year career in New Rochelle politics, and that the rate of increase was lower during that period than in comparable Westchester cities.
Bramson and Astorino are scheduled to meet face to face for the second time at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at the Atrium at 1133 Westchester Avenue in White Plains.
The final debate is on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at Pace University on Martine Avenue in White Plains, and is being presented by the League of Women Voters.
There are three other forums featuring the two candidates.