Candidates for various state and federal offices came face-to-face with voters at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center in an annual election forum last week, sparking a lively discussion on issues most important to the district in the run-up to the Nov. 6 general election.
The Oct. 23 candidates’ forum, courtesy of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, allowed incumbents and challengers running for state Senate, U.S. Senate and congressional offices that oversee the region to pitch their campaigns while also fielding questions from Bay Terrace voters.
In the race for state Senate, Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) touted his record of ethics reform as one of the reasons he should be re-elected. The senator said that during his time in the Senate, to which he was elected in 2010 after defeating 38-year incumbent Frank Padavan, he helped the body pass two consecutive, on-time budgets for the first time in more than two decades. All the while, he remained accessible to his constituents and fought actively on their behalf on the local level, as he did during his eight years serving in the City Council, Avella said.
“Is it enough? Absolutely not,” Avella said. “And we have to go back and do more.”
Avella’s Republican opponent, retired NYPD Capt. Joseph Concannon, said he was running because government had become too big and too reckless with spending under his opponent’s watch.
“If you like the status quo, then you need to vote for Tony Avella with all your heart and all your soul,” Concannon said. “I’m offering a change.”
In his pitch, Concannon spoke of his experience in the police force as well as working with the administration of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani while attacking Avella’s stance on issues important to the district, including hydrofracking, which was discussed in nearly each candidate’s platform throughout the night.
“Tony Avella is not a scientist. He’s a politician,” Concannon said, adding that scientists should ultimately determine whether or not the oil extraction procedure should be taken up on the state level.
Avella has been a vocal critic of the procedure, openly protesting its implementation because of its potentially dangerous environmental consequences.
While all candidates running for public offices who influence the Bay Terrace region were invited to the forum, including President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, only candidates from non-major parties attended the forum outside of Avella and Concannon’s race.
In the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), write-in candidate Scott Noren and Independence Party candidate John Mangelli made their cases to voters. Neither Gillibrand nor her Republican challenger, Wendy Long, attended.
Noren, a six-year veteran of the U.S. Army, pushed his platform to focus on creating industrial and energy jobs while capping all student loans at 3 percent. Mangelli, an attorney who works throughout the city, said Gillibrand has been inaccessible while in office and his campaign would work to protect states’ rights and eliminate sex trafficking, among other things.
Of the candidates running for the seat now held by U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge), only Constitution Party candidate Anthony Tolda was present at the forum, not including one surrogate who was permitted to speak for Israel’s Republican challenger Stephen Labate. This district will now encompass part of northeast Queens.
Some elected officials running unopposed in November made appearances at the forum, including state Assemblymen Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and David Weprin (D-Little Neck), while one particular elected official surprised the crowd with his own visit.
U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), who is retiring Jan. 1, stopped by the forum, thanking constituents for their teamwork over his more than three decades in office.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2012 Community News Group
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