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Seeking Padavan’s seat, Dem candidates face off

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Hoping to strengthen the chances of unseating long-time state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) in the fall, the Queens County Line Democratic Association was slated to host a debate this week between the two Democratic candidates for the seat.

Morshed Alam, of Jamaica Estates, and Rory Lancman, of Fresh Meadows, were to square off Thursday at 8 p.m. at Temple Sholom, 263-10 Union Turnpike in Glen Oaks.

The group opted to hold the debate some eight months before the election to give local Democrats the chance to support one candidate, said Corey Bearak, president of the association. He said the association is trying to get Democratic community in the area to support one candidate to avoid a primary, not just listening to its district leaders.

"Many think well of both Rory and Morshed, and we recommend that the public interest would be better served by a Democratic candidate, unweakened by a primary, facing the incumbent Republican conservative," said Henry McCoy, Democratic district leader.

Bearak said the format of the "Debate for the Designation" will be a forum in which the candidates can discuss their qualifications and views, in addition to taking questions from the audience.

The candidates' forum will be moderated by Marc Haken, first vice president of the Queens Line Democratic Association, which covers the areas stretching from Queens Village and Bellerose to Floral Park, Glen Oaks, North Shore Towers, Little Neck and Douglaston.

Lancman said he was looking forward to the debate and discussing issues such as education and health care with Alam. He said the primary and debates between Democratic presidential hopefuls Al Gore and Bill Bradley were good for Gore and he hoped the debates and a primary would help him in a similar fashion.

"The more opportunities to discuss the issues the better," Lancman said. "It is in the best interest of the Democrats to put their best foot forward as soon as possible and focus on the goal of beating Padavan."

Alam said he was also looking forward to the debate because it would give him and the voters the opportunity to hear his opponent's point of view. He said the voters already know where he stands because he ran in 1998 against Padavan.

"I feel great about the debate," said Alam. "It is a wonderful opportunity to tell the people what I think and hear the community's concerns."

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