Fort Totten development tops Bay Terrace debate

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The development of Fort Totten dominated the agenda Tuesday night in Bay Terrace as nearly 200 residents turned out to hear the political messages of more than a half dozen candidates running for statewide office.

The third annual Bay Terrace candidate’s night, held at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center, was considerable smaller than last year’s event when 20 candidates attended. Several mayoral candidates as well as dozens of city council candidates showed up in 2001, when the entire City Council and other citywide posts were up for grabs.

While this year’s state and federal political races have been considerably quieter than the 2001 contests, that did not stop several prominent political candidates from coming to Bay Terrace.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and her Democratic opponent, former City Councilwoman Julia Harrison (D-Flushing), were in attendance, as were state Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) and her Republican opponent, Douglaston resident John Ottulich.

Democratic state comptroller candidate Alan Hevesi, lieutenant governor candidate Charlie King, a fellow Democrat, and state attorney general candidate Dora Irizarry, who is a Republican, also participated in the forum.

At the event organized by the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, the crowd of nearly 200 people got to hear about the candidate’s opinions on everything from neighborhood traffic issues to the need for an increased police presence. Also on the agenda were how the candidates, if they were elected, would help protect Bay Terrace from traffic generated by a park slated for nearby Fort Totten.

Stavisky, who said she believed Bay Terrace may be able to get increased police presence via a police substation proposed for Fort Totten, said the city must build more parking when it finishes its efforts at Totten. The city is in the process of taking over Fort Totten from the federal government

“The idea that people will be coming by public transportation is ridiculous,” she said. “They’re not, they’re going to be driving.”

Harrison said understaffing at the 109th Precinct in Flushing, which covers Bay Terrace, was at the heart of the issue of police presence.

The longtime politician and former state assemblywoman outlined her priorities as health care and education and said in order to accomplish things people should “raise hell and make waves and get it done.”

Carrozza, who was first elected six years ago, reminded the audience of her legislative record and touched on a range of issues including the cost of prescription drugs, insurance fraud and traffic issues.

“I’m not only your servant in Albany, I’m your neighbor,” the Bayside resident told the audience.

Her opponent, Ottulich, introduced himself to the Bay Terrace community. A businessman who works in the construction scaffolding industry, the 46-year-old Ottulich announced his candidacy in March.

On the Totten issue, Ottulich said he would work to encourage the Parks Department to “make it a less active space. It should be a more passive space” to lessen the effect on neighboring Bay Terrace, he said.

Hevesi, the former city comptroller and a Forest Hills resident who is running for state comptroller, outlined his extensive political resume that includes a stint in Albany as an assemblyman. Hevesi earned a laugh when he touched on his resounding loss in last year’s Democratic mayoral primary.

“I also, as you know, ran for mayor. I forgot what the results were — I blocked that out of my mind,” said a smiling Hevesi. He placed fourth in a four-way race for the Democratic nod for mayor, competing with Peter Vallone, Fernando Ferrer and the winner, Mark Green. Republican Michael Bloomberg eventually won the post.

In addition to Hevesi, King, a Rockland County resident who is running for lieutenant governor, also made an appearance.

King, who is running on Andrew Cuomo’s Democratic gubernatorial ticket, described incumbent Republican Gov. George Pataki as “a champion of mediocrity” and said economic and educational issues were leading his agenda.

The candidate, who expounded on the need for campaign finance reform, scored laughs when he talked about having to spend more time raising money to run for office than campaigning.

“I can’t even get my mom on the phone any more because she thinks I’m hitting her up for another $50 bucks,” he said.

Irizarry, a former state judge who outlined her record of fighting drug dealers as a prosecutor in the South Bronx, said she would refocus the state attorney general’s office to better tackle sexual abuse of children via the Internet as well as insurance fraud and help local law enforcement fight drug dealers.

“I’m not a politician by trade, I’m a public servant,” she told the audience.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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