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Broome County Executive Candidate Debates?

There may be no debates between the two candidates for Broome County executive.

County Executive Debra Preston and challenger Tarik Abdelazim discussed issues in a joint appearance in the town of Union Wednesday.

June 8, 2012
Bob Joseph/WNBF News

Preston – a Republican – and Abdelazim – a Democrat – answered a series of questions about county-related issues in the event, which was sponsored by the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber president and CEO Louis Santoni barred the news media from using video or still cameras during the discussion.

Santoni indicated he was concerned audience members might be “intimidated” if cameras were allowed during the event.

Santoni was not available Thursday morning to elaborate on the decision to ban photography or video recording of the forum.

No debates between Preston and Abdelazim are scheduled.

Preston told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin her schedule is booked until December 1, more than three weeks after election day.

Speaking Tuesday on WNBF Radio’s Binghamton Now program, Preston would not discuss a long-running invitation for the candidates to participate in a live broadcast debate.

Preston said she doesn’t “talk about politics and my campaign” when she’s in the County Office Building. She said she’d “been going crazy trying to get the budget done” and that she’s busy working on county projects.

Preston said, “I will call you.” But she hasn’t contacted WNBF Radio since then regarding a debate.

Abdelazim today called the program to say he believed a joint broadcast appearance would be a “great opportunity” for the candidates to discuss the issues and reach a large number of Broome County residents.

Abdelazim said it’s “really disappointing” that no broadcast debates are scheduled. He said he is willing to appear on Binghamton Now at any time with Preston before the election.

Also on today’s program, Broome CountyRepublican Committee chairman David Hamlin said it “certainly wouldn’t hurt” for Preston to participate in a radio debate. He said as long as the forum was fair and provided each candidate with an equal opportunity to speak, “I think it’d be a good idea.”

Video and still cameras will be permitted during a WNBF Radio candidate debate.

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