Maloney, Heim see economy as top issue

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U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D−Astoria) said the nation’s struggling economy has been her top priority during her bid to retain her congressional seat as she faces Republican challenger Robert Heim.

Maloney, first elected in 1993, defended her vote to pass Congress’ economic rescue package and said voters in her district, which includes Astoria, Long Island City and the East Side of Manhattan, were primarily concerned with the state and national economic downturn.

“Voters are telling me it’s the economy, the economy, the economy,” she said. “They are concerned about their jobs, the city budget and the possibility of taxes going up. Families with good credit are having difficulty getting loans. This crisis is as serious as any this nation has ever faced.”

The congresswoman said another key issue would be to stabilize the nation’s housing market. She said an estimated 2 million to 5 million foreclosures could be expected under the current climate.

Maloney said she believed infrastructure improvement would be one of the largest providers of new jobs, drawing parallels to road and bridge construction projects created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt following the Great Depression.

She said her district currently contains two huge infrastructure projects that she believes could employ many people: the East Side Access, which would bring the Long Island Rail Road into Grand Central terminal, and the rebuilding of the roadway at Queens Plaza.

She said other priority issues included expanding health care availability, greater investments in early childhood education, providing paid parental leave to federal employees and increased housing for seniors.

Heim, a former prosecutor with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said the economy was also the key issue in his campaign. He said he would develop policies that would create jobs and encourage investment, savings and entrepreneurship. He currently practices corporate and securities law.

Heim, who lives in Manhattan, said he disagreed with Maloney’s vote on the rescue package.

“I’ve traveled around the district and found that people are upset with Carolyn Maloney’s vote on the bailout, which is a rescue of Wall Street,” he said. “The problems in the financial system came up a year ago. If Congress had acted at that time, we wouldn’t be in the financial mess we’re in now.”

Heim said improving education in the district was another priority.

“I’m a supporter of vouchers and I also support merit pay for teachers so we can keep talented teachers and reward them for doing a good job,” he said.

Heim, who previously ran for the state Assembly in Manhattan’s 73rd District in 2006, said he also believes the city needs heightened security in its ports and mass transit system.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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