UTICA — The number of candidates exceeded the number of residents at a community forum at the Utica Center for Development two weeks before municipal elections.

There were nine candidates for City of Utica offices, including one incumbent and a candidate for mayor. The few members of the public in attendance asked questions or gave comments about the state of the city during the two hours of discussion at the Utica Center for Development.

Those in attendance included mayoral candidate Joe Marino, Common Council President Mike Galime, Common Council at-large candidates Stephen Keblish Jr., Hanka Grabovica and Michael Gentile; Common Council 3rd Ward candidates Richard Tomaino Jr. and Celeste Friend; Common Council 5th Ward candidate Delvin Moody; and Common Council 1st Ward Candidate Katie Aiello-Martin. Oneida County Legislature candidate Stephen Roefaro also joined the forum after it began.

Candidates discussed a variety of topics, including how to support small businesses, education initiatives, programs to boost home ownership and transparency in government. Criticism against the current administration came from most of the candidates and was reflected in audience questions and comments.

Marino, the current 4th Ward Councilman, said small business owners and residents don’t have access or feel comfortable at City Hall under the current administration.

“There are big issues, but I think that the little issues have been ignored so we can cut ribbons on the big,” Marino said.

Other issues discussed by the candidates included pedestrian and bike safety and access to jobs.

While most of the candidates agreed or even built on other candidates ideas and comments, at-large Common Council candidates Grabovica and Gentile clashed over their view of how the city has changed from 2001, when Grabovica arrived in Utica, to today. Grabovica praised city's redevelopment after her initial disappointment, while Gentile was critical of a reduction in the services provided by the city over the same span.

The full video from the candidate forum is available on the Facebook page for the Downtown Community Forum.