Bracey, Helfrich spar over crime, cops in York mayoral debate

Written by Gary Haber/The York Daily Record | Oct 27, 2017 7:30 AM

From left, Kim Bracey, Michael Helfrich and Dave Moser participate in a York mayoral candidate debate Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, in Marketview Arts in York. The three candidates -- Democratic incumbent Kim Bracey, Republican candidate Michael Helfrich and Libertarian candidate Dave Moser -- are running for mayor of York in the Nov. 7 election. (Photo: Chris Dunn, York Daily Record)

(York) -- York Mayor Kim Bracey and City Council President Michael Helfrich mixed it up over crime rates, taxes and putting more cops on the street in the first mayoral debate since Bracey narrowly beat Helfrich in the Democratic primary in May.

The York Daily Record and York College co-sponsored the debate.

In a debate otherwise short on fireworks, Bracey, who edged Helfrich by 311 votes in the primary, said crime in the city is down 31 percent.

"Facts don't lie," said Bracey, who is seeking her third term as mayor. "I'm not making that up."

Helfrich, a Democrat running on the Republican line, quickly challenged that assertion. 

He said the city has seen a modest decrease in crime but violent crime is up 28 percent from 2015 to 2016 and murders are up 38 percent.

"That's not a trend that's moving in the right direction," he said. 

Helfrich said the city has been adding employees in other departments when it should be adding more cops.

"I'm willing to trade two administrative positions for two more police officers on the street," he said.

Adding additional police officers costs $100,000 each, Bracey countered.

Sixty-seven percent of the city's budget is already devoted to the city's police and fire departments including pensions and health care costs, she said.

York Mayor Kim Bracey, City Council President Michael Helfrich and David Moser, a York City Schools director, mixed it up in the first York mayoral candidate debate Thursday night at Marketview Arts.

David Moser, a York City Schools director who is running as a Libertarian, pointed to the strides the school district has made during his time on the board: improved test scores and finances and a science, technology and arts school at the reopened Edgar Fahs Smith School.

His election as a city school director shows Libertarians can win elective office, Moser said.

Moser called for strengthening neighborhood associations in the city and increased bus service between York College and downtown York to bring more college students into the city.

Bracey declined to discuss the city's handling of her son Brandon Anderson's paid leave of absence after Anderson, a supervisor at the city's wastewater treatment plant, allegedly assaulted Bracey at her campaign headquarters on Sept. 30.

The city's human resources department is handling the matter, Bracey said.

"The matter is being handled through that department and I've recused myself totally," she said.

Helfrich, who received enough votes from Republicans as a write-in candidate to make the Nov. 7 ballot, said Bracey herself courted votes as a Republican write-in candidate prior to the May primary.

"I lost the Democratic primary but I think people want a choice," Helfrich said. "By me going on the Republican ballot it gives everyone a say," not just Democrats, he said.

As for taxes, Bracey said her proposed budget for 2018 will include a 4 percent tax reduction.

That would be on top of a 2 percent decrease in 2017 and a 1 percent reduction in 2016. The total 7 percent reduction is compared with 2015.

Helfrich countered that the reductions come after city taxes went up 30 percent.

Bracey meanwhile touted the city's improved bond rating and more than $150 million in new real estate development during her tenure.

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record.

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