|Print this story||Permalink|
It may not have been formatted as a debate, but it appeared no one attending a candidates forum at St. John's University Monday night informed state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) or City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows).
Six candidates vying for statewide office as well as representatives for U.S. Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) took part in a student-run forum at the school's Belson Moot Courtroom, designed to both educate and generate interest in the local races taking place in Queens in November.
Though several of the candidates in attendance — state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), who sent a representative — do not have serious challenges to their incumbency in the general election, Padavan and Gennaro spent much of the night sniping at one another.
Gennaro, who will be term-limited out of the City Council in 2009, is challenging Padavan for his Senate seat serving the 11th District, which covers Bayside, Douglaston, College Point, Little Neck and Glen Oaks as well as parts of Whitestone, Kew Gardens and Fresh Meadows.
Gennaro attacked Padavan when he defended the New York state Legislature, contending it has taken major steps in recent years to shake the image of a broken system.
"He's defending the status quo, saying we've made great strides because we vote in our seats now," Gennaro said. "I think we have a situation where the Republican majority is more worried about hanging onto power rather than doing the people's business."
Padavan shot back at Gennaro, contending the state Senate has made far more progress than the New York City Council, which he characterized as a politically one-sided legislative body drowning in bureaucracy.
"If you want to talk about something that needs to be changed, that's it," Padavan said.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and her Republican challenger, Peter Koo, also participated in the event, but largely steered clear of direct confrontation.
Throughout the evening candidates spoke on various topics from the economy to the use of new media in their campaigns. During the course of the event, the more than 200 students who attended — both in the courtroom itself and two overflow rooms — were encouraged to text message questions to the moderators, who later posed some of the questions to the candidates.
The event was organized by several student-run political organizations as a means of generating interest in the local and presidential elections.
"I think there's a lot of potential for interest to grow in these races in the coming weeks because of events like this," said Stephen Holland, a member of College Democrats.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, ext. 138.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
|Print this story||Permalink|
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.