ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The race is set for Elmira’s 4th District City Council seat. Rev. Gary Brinn, a pastor & teacher at The Park Church in Wisner Park, is challenging republican incumbent Mark Franchi, who is seeking a second term after being elected in 2019.

“I enjoy doing it. I like helping people. I mean, just call me if you need me, you know, and I’ll come over and I’ll do what I can,” Franchi told 18 News reporter Nicolas Dubina.

Franchi says he is eager to get back to work after recovering from a heart attack three months ago that required triple bypass surgery.

“Even when I was in the hospital, I was getting phone calls,” said Franchi. I would pass it on to somebody like the Mayor or the City Manager because I knew they could help me in those matters.”

“What are some of the issues you have been trying to address over the last three and half years, that your constituents say is at the top of their minds?” asked Dubina.

“Homelessness, the violence, the shootings, getting the roads paved, you know, getting some of the bad houses torn down.”

Rev. Gary Brinn became the pastor of The Park Church in 2021. He says Elmira is in a death spiral and new ideas are needed to save it.

“I’m actually a big sports fan, and my take is that when my team seems to be stuck and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, it’s time for a change of personnel. It’s clearly time for a change of personnel for the city of Elmira,” said Brinn.

“I’m not overly interested in blame or focusing on mistakes that were made in the past. Obviously, deindustrialization was already going on before the major flood hit the city in 1972. And we can look back and question those decisions, but a lot of the problems Elmira is facing are typical of old rust belt cities. We are economically trapped. There is so much blighted property, slums in this city, slum lords. We’ve got to address the deterioration of the housing stock in this city. That’s a pretty high priority for me. That’s going to require some innovative and new thinking and there’s some great small towns that are doing exactly that. I know there are small cities that are thriving, and this can be one of them”

The election is on November 7th. For more voting information, visit the Chemung County Board of Elections.