This is the third article in a three-part series on the candidates for New York State Senate in what is currently the 53rd New York State Senate District. These races continue to be impacted by the volatile state redistricting process.

ITHACA, N.Y.—Rich David’s top priority in all his runs for Mayor of the City of Binghamton was making communities safer, and it’s his top priority now as he runs on the Republican ticket for the New York State Senate.

“No matter what your political affiliation is, everybody wants a safe community,” said David.

David served as Mayor of Binghamton from 2014 until the end of 2021, and In his last year as mayor, he rose to the position of President of the New York State Conference of Mayors. 

David said, “When you’re a mayor, everything’s your top priority, right?

He’s falling back on his mayoral career in his run for state senate, but also touting experience he’s had on small real estate development projects, working in the world of education as the public affairs officer at SUNY Broome Community College, and also a brief stint working in TV journalism. He’s hoping to take this breadth of experience to Albany, which he has called “dysfunctional.” 

David pairs his call for increased investments in law enforcement and public safety with his thoughts on how New York should recover from the pandemic as well.

“Nothing else matters if a community isn’t safe. We’ll never get big box companies or Mom-and-Pop companies to locate in neighborhoods or cities if they aren’t safe,” David said.

David also said that the cost of doing business in New York State is too high, and that the pressures of regulations on business restricts economic growth.

David said that the bail reform changes that passed on Governor Kathy Hochul’s 2022 budget “really did not address the issue in a meaningful or significant way.” He cited New York City Mayor Eric Adams stance on bail reform, saying, “You have the new mayor of New York City, who’s a Democrat […] saying the same things that upstate Republicans are saying about bail reform.

Improving the range of calls that law enforcement can respond to is of strong interest to David. Though, when asked what he thought of Ithaca’s efforts to Reimagine Public Safety he said that it was an effort to “reinvent the wheel” and a “recipe for disaster.” 

David said that he thought that a more effective way to deal with the intersection of public safety and mental health issues would be in a model employed by the Binghamton Police Department and the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier (MHAST) Under this model, mental health workers accompany officers on calls involving mental health related cases.

“Mental health officials will definitely take the lead on it, but law enforcement will be there to assist as necessary. And I can tell you that cases that involve domestic responses or mental health issues are oftentimes the most dangerous types of responses that police officers face,” said David.

An unrealized effort to privatize the Binghamton-Johnson City Wastewater Treatment Plant has been one of the lingering in David’s mayoral legacy — a plan he still sticks by. He said that the plan would have resolved many of the issues in what he called a “flawed” management structure.

He thought by privatizing the management of the plant — not the staffing — it could create a layer of accountability to the two municipalities that operate a joint board, which David said was ineffective administratively in his view.

David said that he does not believe that privatizing management of municipal services is always the way to go, but only was in the case of the wastewater treatment plant due to what he saw as an ineffective system. 

“I believe the only reason that you would […] have a conversation about [privatizing] is if you can maintain or increase the level of service, or save money,” said David.

David also leveled a criticism against the way in which New York State’s Regional Economic Development Councils function, saying they were a tool that the governor “played favorites” through. 

“The strength of New York is also based on the strength of the cities, towns, villages and counties, large and small,” said David. “We have to do more to support our municipal partners.”

Jimmy Jordan

Jimmy Jordan is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at jjordan@ithacavoice.com Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn