Avella, Concannon spar at Bay Terrace forum

State Sen. Tony Avella (l.) and his Republican challenger Joseph Concannon address voters at the Bay Terrace candidates forum last week. Photo by Phil Corso
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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 or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 3:45 am, November 2, 2012
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Reader feedback

Witness says:
It wasn't sparring. ConCannon is a con man who was rude to his hosts.

Wouldn't vote for him if he was the only person running

What a waste.
Nov. 3, 2012, 3:12 pm
I was there from Bayside says:
Concannon is arrogant and full of platitudes. At the Bay Terrace forum, he didn't utter a single concrete thing that had any substance. Just bits he got from the GOP platform that don't even apply to our area or the office he's trying to obtain. I'm an independent that voted for Avella (after years of voting for Frank, it was his turn to move on) and I will be voting for him again as state senator. he has done some good on Albany and his office works hard to get results when you call them. We need him to continue with the work he started.
Nov. 4, 2012, 8:54 am
Phil Orenstein from Queens Village says:
I was there also, and I beg to differ with the above commentaries, who sound more like they want the cesspool of bureaucrats up in Albany to stay the way it is. Concannon, is a hard worker, tough as nails community leader who has a plan and the know-how to get the job done. He demonstrated his capabilities over the last few days by going around providing generators to homes without power and sending tanker trucks to stations without gas. Where was Avella? Where is Avella now, while 1000's of residents are still without power, homes damaged and trees down? Planning his run for Borough president?
Nov. 5, 2012, 2:45 pm
Rich says:
"...and sending tanker trucks to stations without gas."


You mean the truckers that had thousands of dollars in gasoline didn't know where to go and were waiting for someone like Joe C to tell them which gas stations to go to?

I'm sure Hess was real happy that Shell got the gas that was intended for Hess.
Nov. 6, 2012, 8:41 pm

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