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Lancaster mayoral candidates clash at debate

Written by Marie Cusick | Oct 24, 2013 3:52 AM

The two mayoral candidates in Lancaster are sparring, ahead of next month's election.

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In a contentious debate last night, each made their case for a third term in the mayor’s office.

Democratic incumbent Rick Gray has been at the helm of the city for the past eight years.

His challenger, Republican Charlie Smithgall, was mayor from 1998 to 2006.

Both are taking credit for the revitalization of the city's downtown and accusing the other of being out of touch.

Gray says his opponent has been absent from city life since he left the mayor’s office.

“For the last eight years he’s done nothing. He hasn’t been here. He hasn’t been involved in anything. And it made it more and more difficult for him to understand the current situation.”

Smithgall, a pharmacist, says he’s been busy running his business and believes Gray has let crime get out of control.

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“I’m in touch with the city, I talk to people. People can’t get responses to the city so they still call me. They still perceive me as the mayor. We gotta move forward. The stuff he brings up is absolutely not true.”

Smithgall says he’s frustrated with the city’s crime levels and blames Gray for not being attentive to his constituents.

“We want to bring a whole lot of things back to the city. Get the city involved, especially the neighborhoods. The neighborhoods have been neglected for the last eight years. And get the financial structure back under control and getting police and fire where they need to be at staff levels where people are protected.”

But Gray says he offers something Smithgall does not.

“The biggest difference between myself and former Mayor Smithgall is leadership. I provide leadership. I provide a leadership style that’s brought Lancaster to where it is. And I intend to lead Lancaster for another four years, to be an even better place.”

Gray defeated Smithgall in 2005 and 2009.

Voters head to the polls in less than two weeks - November 5th.

Published in Lancaster

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