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Bay Terrace group hosts mayoral foes

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city Comptroller William Thompson each laid out their visions for the city’s future during a mayoral forum at the Bayside Jewish Center last week, touching on the city’s economy, housing, crime rates and senior services.

Bloomberg, who is running as an independent, and Thompson, a Democrat, showed up at different times throughout the evening during the course of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance’s meeting at the center. The event marked the mayor’s first visit to the Bayside group.

Bloomberg emphasized growing small city businesses, lower crime rates, the creation of affordable housing, improvements to mass transit and education during his speech to the group.

“The city economy is better than people predicted, but people are still getting hurt,” he said. “People are losing their homes or their jobs. The real estate business is picking up and things are going to get better slowly. But I don’t think we’ll get back to the way we were two years ago when anyone could get a mortgage.”

During his speech, Thompson discussed property tax issues, increases in parking tickets from city agents, senior citizen services and quality-of-life issues, such as police, sanitation and transportation. He accused the mayor of being “out of touch with the real issues everyday New Yorkers face.”

“Under Mike Bloomberg, 85 percent of the city’s neighborhoods worst hit by foreclosure have a majority of black and Latino homeowners,” he said. “The mayor continues to squeeze the working and middle class and ignores the needs of minority homeowners.”

Bloomberg said the city’s tourism industry would continue to thrive, primarily because crime rates have not risen during the economic recession.

“Street crime is at a record low, which is not supposed to happen when the economy is down and the number of police is down,” he said. “It’s not my job to have the most cops, but the best trained cops.”

But he said the city, especially communities like Bayside, needed additional transportation choices.

“If you take a look at northeast Queens, there is not enough mass transit,” he said.

Thompson said, as comptroller, he has stood up for senior programs and would continue to do so as mayor.

“I believe our city has a duty — indeed a responsibility — to provide a comfortable and dignified life for our senior citizens in need, especially during these tough economic times,” said Thompson, who vowed to conduct audits of city senior centers to ensure they were in good repair.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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