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Malliotakis fumbles at Douglaston forum

Nicole Malliotakis failed to resonate with audience members at a Douglaston candidates forum.
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GOP mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis lost the room at a Tuesday forum hosted by the Douglaston Civic Association as audience members turned their attention away from the Staten Island assemblywoman to their own conversations.

The forum also featured City Council candidates Paul Graziano, a land-use consultant who lost to Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) in the Democratic primary and will be challenging him again in the general election on the Reform Party line, and Joseph Concannon who is hoping to unseat Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) as a Republican.

“We need to invest in technology, including the subway signals. But also traffic lights — smart traffic lights — that sense pedestrians and sense vehicles, are known to other cities to have increased safety but also cut the number of stops you need to make going to your destination, decrease travel time. We need to do that and that’s where I believe the money should be spent and not on Vision Zero, which will cost $6 billion over the next five years. We should instead be looking to invest in our infrastruc­ture,” Malliotakis said before several members of the audience, including Graziano, gave in to their own conversations and the mayoral candidate moved on to the Q&A portion.

Malliotakis also parted with potential constituents on the matter of school overcrowding. She failed to address the issue in her speech about education and when an attendee asked her about how she would resolve overcrowding in city schools, Malliotakis replied by saying she would invest further in charter schools, which prompted skeptical remarks.

None of the incumbents showed up for the candidate’s forum at the Community Church of Douglaston, which Concannon and Graziano both played on as proof of their opponents’ unwillingness to involve themselves in the communities they cover. About 50 people attended.

One major issue which has divided the community has been the recently installed bike lanes on Northern Boulevard between Bayside and Douglaston.

Graziano claimed Vallone was in favor of the DOT plan to take a lane from the westbound side of the road for a bike lane protected by Jersey barriers and decrease the speed limit even though Community Board 11 rescinded its early approval and voted for an in-house proposal that would widen the sidewalk to allow space for riders and pedestrians.

“As we have seen the implementation, within one week two cars flipped over. It is not safe, it is not a good idea and the best thing to is to take the bikes off the road,” Graziano said, referring to two vehicles that collided with the barriers. Neither of the autos overturned, however. “This is where an executive and a Council member would sit down with the community, with all interested parties and the community board and try to do that before implementing this.”

Concannon claimed Grodenchik’s absence from the event was an indication of his overall performance as a councilman, asserting he had not been responsive during a gas crisis at Glen Oaks co-op in December 2016 and that he had also been silent on the issue of patient oversight at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, where some of the people admitted have wandered freely i the community.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

Updated 1:32 pm, October 26, 2017
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