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Politics and Government

Hawkins calls for a debate in race against Masterpole for Syracuse city auditor

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO File photo
Howie Hawkins at Syracuse City Hall.

Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins called for a debate after he announced that he is running against incumbent Marty Masterpole for Syracuse city auditor. Hawkins said not enough audits are being done by the city. Since taking office in 2011, Masterpole has been producing about four audits every year for the city. Prior to that and going back to 2004, the average had been about 10 audits every year. 

Hawkins said if he is elected, he will audit infrastructure planning and the long-term fiscal sustainability of the city.

"We got high poverty, failing infrastructure, sewage backing up into people's homes, water mains breaking, sinkholes," Hawkins said.

Hawkins said he is also concerned that more than half of Syracuse’s schools are in the receivership process, meaning if they don’t improve they could be turned into charter schools.

“So that money goes to those students, meanwhile the school districts got the legacy overhead of pension and healthcare for the staff and the overhead of the administration, the maintenance of buildings and transportation," Hawkins said. "Can the school district be fiscally solvent in those circumstances?”

Hawkins referenced the Chester Upland School District in Pennsylvania where nearly half of its students go to charters and the district is bankrupt from giving payments to charters for the students that go there.

“I will have the independence to provide the checks and balances city government needs and the independence to do audits that may not be welcomed by some in the city because they’ll look at areas that maybe haven’t been looked at but need to be," Hawkins said. "Those audits can help the mayor, the council, city departments and agencies do a better job.” 

In a statement, Masterpole said the health care report his office produced in 2012 is saving the city millions of dollars annually in what it pays in medical benefits to city employees and their dependents. Masterpole also mentioned the Greater Syracuse Land Bank audit that was conducted with the county comptroller’s office. Hawkins agreed that audit was good to do, but said he would look into predatory lending and redlining because not enough mortgages are being loaned to people on Syracuse’s south side.

Masterpole also says he would be willing to debate Hawkins before the election if it is hosted by a media outlet or an independent group.