Four Council candidates hammer out the issues at Wednesday debate

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Four of the candidates vying for the City Council seat vacated by Mark Weprin when he took an administrative position in the governor’s office appeared at North Shore Towers Co-op in Glen Oaks Wednesday night for a debate. Many of the questions focused on concerns facing older district residents.

Six candidates, three of whom were absent, are hoping for the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 10 primary election.

Retired NYPD captain, U.S. Air Force veteran and public safety advocate Joe Concannon, who is running on Republican and Conservative party lines, is the only candidate not facing a primary opponent.

Concannon joined in the conversation Wednesday night between three of the candidates with varying levels of experience bidding for the Democratic nomination: Former state Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik, who is currently on leave from his position as director of parks and community boards for the borough president; former state Assembly and City Council candidate, residential co-op leader and former columnist for the Bayside Times Bob Friedrich; and former deputy commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Office Rebecca Lynch.

The debate, organized in part by North Shore Towers Political Action Committee Chairwoman Felice Hannah, also asked which issues candidates viewed as most pressing to eastern Queens.

Concannon responded by criticizing city policy changes to social services and emergency services. He contended that the creation of a fund to help offenders pay bail and the Council’s passage of the 2014 Community Safety Act that allows individuals to sue the NYPD in state court over instances of bias and ultimately led to the end of “stop and frisk,” have had a negative impact on crime in the area.

Friedrich talked about several issues. He said for parents, keeping the Council district’s schools — some of the best in the city — is most important, whereas Queens Village residents might be most concerned over the possible city placement of a juvenile detention center in their area.

But Friedrich said for people in the room, as residents of North Shore Towers, the biggest concern is “keeping co-ops affordable, keeping maintenance in check and making sure we don’t lose our abatement rebate that we are at risk for losing every year.”

Grodenchik said the most pressing issue for eastern Queens residents is the need for the city to allocate more resources for libraries, parks and schools in the area.

“My job will be to be an independent voice for you,” Grodenchik said. “It is critical we remember and remind the city that we are out here. We like our way of life out here, and we don’t want to change. We only want to change for the better.”

Lynch, who is also running on the Working Families Party line, said her priority if elected to the City Council would be to allocate resources to keep schools in eastern Queens some of the best-performing facilities in the city.

“One of my major concerns is that over the years, the city has allowed our schools … to become inundated with more students than they can handle,” Lynch said. “On day one as a City Council member, I would call up the School Construction Authority to come up with a real plan for building a new high school in our community.”

Aides for Ali Najmi, Celia Dosamantes and Satnam Parhar, the three South Asians running in the race, all said they had made other commitments prior to the scheduled debate.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

Updated 5:43 pm, August 6, 2015
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Reader feedback

Rose Lopez from Glen Oaks says:
Bob Friedrich never made co-op affordable. He raised maintenance and increased fines for feeding feral cats, smoking outdoors, leaving garbage outside earlier for pick up, relaxing on the lawn and much more. Of 3,900 residents, 100 apartments are empty. Friedrich is a ruthless dictator with no common sense.
Aug. 6, 2015, 11:45 pm
Rosie from NYC says:
Rebecca Lynch will bring more crime and government waste. She isn't her own person. Will do what it takes to further her own ambitions at the cost of the working people. She doesn't care about sending pedophiles to your doors. she will be safe in her gold plated tower she supports lgbt rights yet her donors and volunteer gay bait in the Muslim community "outing" Najimi. She needs to state to that same community that she is lgbt supporter as well. She supports ban the box that will have pedophiles delivering to your doors yet she is horrified that she employed a pedophile to canvas and knock doors in CD23. She again plays both sides. She was a paid lobbyists to take our public land and built a soccer stadium. She moved back to Glenn Oaks after Weprin's vacated his part time 125k paying city council seat. May i say carpet bagger. She was endorsed by working family party that takes money from the working class to fund criminals. They endorsed Cuomo over Teachout and now Lynch over Najimi. They are not progressives at all. And lynch took lots of money from carriage industry to support carriage horse abuse and advocate for their fake union. A union made up of the owners of the 68 medallions and some drivers. There is no collective bargaining for drivers that are misclassifiedas independent consultant to avoid labor laws aND taxes. Lynch has more compassion for pedophile than she has for horses worked to death in our city
Aug. 7, 2015, 12:56 pm
Rose Lopez is ignorant from Queens says:
You are so lacking that you do not realize that everything Bob fined you for was done because these activities are illegal in the city of NY. Had you been caught, the coop could have been fined. You cannot smoke in a doorway or within 15 feet of a building, look on the sanitation dept web site for regulations on when you can put out trash. Feeding diseased cats and pigeons is illegal and also strictly third world. You should be ashamed of being so ignorant
Aug. 19, 2015, 12:19 pm

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