Dem hopefuls talk policy for new Qns seat in House

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (l.-r.) and state Assembly members Rory Lancman and Grace Meng participate in a forum hosted in Flushing last week. Photos by Joe Anuta
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Three candidates for the new Queens congressional seat based in Flushing discussed their platforms at a forum last week, while behind-the-scenes legal battles played out in State Supreme Court.

The forum was hosted by the North East Flushing Civic Association last Thursday at Holy Cross High School, near the corner of 29th Avenue and 170th Street.

President Peter Brancazio said he only invited the three “serious” Democratic candidates to participate: state Assembly members Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village). Dr. Robert Mittman, a Bayside allergist, was not invited to speak.

Familiar Democratic stances were offered to the 30 or so people who had gathered, including support for Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, energy independence, jobs and senior centers.

Meng discussed her ability to bridge the gap between new immigrants to America and the population already living here. She also said she would like to improve infrastructure in the state. Funding could come back to the state if out-of-state lawmakers who fund-raise in New York are required to put some money back, she said.

Meng mentioned the Dream Act, which would give the children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. When asked how she would make the transition from state to federal government, she said she would focus on being a good community liaison.

Lancman spoke next and pointed out that he differed from the Democratic Party on some issues, describing himself as more supportive of the military than many of his colleagues.

Faced with a pointed question about the United Nations Human Rights Council, Lancman said he would do more to ensure American funds are not wasted on a body he called “anti-American and anti-Semitic.”

Lancman also discussed his support for narrowing the gap between tax rates and his desire to eliminate any difference between capital gains taxes, which are earned on investments, and normal income taxes.

In response to a question about how to rein in ballooning pension costs across the country, Crowley said if the nation puts more people back to work, those workers will eventually pay back into the system.

To reduce the country’s energy consumption, Crowley said she supports hydrofracking as long as it is not done near sources of drinking water.

The councilwoman also said that while she supports the president and the troops, soldiers need to immediately come home from Afghanistan.

Mittman was not at the forum, but Tuesday evening a member of his campaign was at the city Board of Elections as the allergist faced increased scrutiny of his petitions. In response to further challenges by Lancman, the board will pour over the 1,200 signatures that survive out of more than 2,500 Mittman initially collected.

If the board finds more than 300 additional signatures do not meet the requirement, Mittman will be tossed from the ballot.

Television producer Juan Sheng, who was knocked off the ballot due to insufficient signatures, filed a countersuit against Meng’s camp, her campaign said, although she will not try to get back on the Democratic ticket.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 7:26 pm, May 9, 2012
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