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Mayoral candidates outline plans for city

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Three Democratic mayoral candidates and one representative of the fourth candidate stopped by Temple Sholom in Floral Park to win the support of the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club and the Jefferson Democratic Club Thursday night.

Public Advocate Mark Green, city Comptroller Alan Hevesi, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) and Corey Bearak, who was standing in for Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, outlined their plans for the city to more than 50 people. At the candidates night, each man gave a 15- to 20-minute presentation on who they were and what they have done for New York City.

Even though their faces, their titles and the path each took to reach the point where they could compete for the keys to Gracie Mansion differed, their messages were the same.

Each highlighted the need for improvements in the city’s educational system, the necessity to make sure crime continues its downward slide and why they were the right person to fight for the rights and needs of the city’s residents.

The crowd of local residents seemed receptive to each of the speakers but did not give any hint as to whom they would pledge their support.

Vallone, who was the first to speak to the crowd, told them he was the best person for the job and should get their support. He said of the four candidates he was the only one with any experience governing the city.

He stressed his record on public safety and the Safe Streets, Safe City program he created in 1991 to address the city’s rising crime rate. He said he favors the neighborhood beat cop over the mayor’s system under which the police were taken out of the communities.

The mayor moved police officers into special units like the Street Crimes Unit and Tracer Units, which do not patrol neighborhoods.

“The city was not safe,” he said. “I came up with a plan and pledged 12.5 percent of our personal income tax to rebuild the political justice system. Mayor Giuliani, who gets credit for this, was not here.”

Ferrer, who did not show up at the event due to a previous engagement, had his legal counsel stand in for him. Bearak said his boss was the best man for the job because he knows how the city runs.

He cited Ferrer’s plans for improving the city’s educational system by implementing a teacher professional development plan and making teachers more accountable.

In terms of bettering the Police Department’s relations with city’s residents, he said, “we need the police and community to trust each other.”

Unlike Vallone, Green said each of the Democratic candidates for mayor had the qualifications to lead the five boroughs. But, he said, experience is not the only thing the mayor needs. He has to have “courage and vision for a better city,” Green said.

He said the next mayor needs to have the courage to “stick his neck out” for what is best for New York City’s citizens. He cited a suit he brought against Giuliani in an attempt to force him to release information on overly abusive police officers as proof he would fight for the city.

The city needs to implement more neighborhood policing and add more cops on the beat, he said. “We don’t need the us vs. them mentality,” Green told the two clubs’ members.

Hevesi, the last of the four candidates, spoke to what remained of the group since he was delayed getting to Floral Park due to a sitdown at another political club where he was trying to drum up support for his campaign.

Stressing the need to reform the public school system, Hevesi spoke of his plan to reduce class size to 20 children per class, which hearkened back to Green, who offered up the same plan.

And like his two rivals and Bearak who spoke before him, Hevesi said “we need to repair the damage between the minority population of the city and the police department.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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