Ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, the Bayside Hills Civic Association invited the public Tuesday night to the Colonial Church of Bayside for a candidate forum.
State Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), running for re-election in District 26, sat beside his Republican challenger, David Bressler, a corporate business owner of a national bakery conglomerate.
Both candidates ran unopposed in the September primary, and are vying for the assembly seat Braunstein has held since 2011.
The northeast Queens district covers Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Bayside Hills, Broadway-Flushing, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, North Shore Towers, Oakland Gardens, and Whitestone.
The candidates introduced themselves to the audience and answered questions to issues of concern in the community.
When asked about the issue of homeless residents and affordable housing, Braunstein referenced state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi’s (D-Forest Hills) legislation, The Home Stability Act, which would provide more state funding to people who are on the verge of homelessness.
“Right now we’re spending millions of dollars putting people in hotels which is expensive,” said Braunstein. “If we had more foresight, we would’ve been able to keep people in their homes in the first place...they wouldn’t have become homeless.”
Braunstein also noted that he opposes overdevelopment in the Bayside neighborhood, where he was born and raised.
The state assemblyman then tackled education issues, condemning Mayor de Blasio’s plan to scrap the Specialized High School Test.
“I think what we need to do is focus more on increasing academic achievement for the unrepresented communities from grades K-8, perhaps provide test prep programs for low-income students,” said Braunstein.
Meanwhile, Bressler agreed with Braunstein on opposing and resolving overdevelopment in the area and supported Hevesi’s Home Stability Act.
If elected to office, Bressler said his first legislation would be term limits for New York state elected officials.
“The first term you’re re-elected you go another four years, and then you move on this way [and] we get another cycle of different people, different blood, different ideas coming through Albany, and also eradicating corruption.”
Bressler also said he’ll bring corporate measures, procedures, and ideas to government to ensure projects are completed.
When asked about illegal immigration, Bressler said he believes that everyone should enter the country legally, but illegal immigrants abiding the law should be protected.
“It’s those [who] are entering that we have to stop because it’s not fair to those who do enter legally,” Bressler said. “Now if you’re an illegal immigrant here for years, and you’ve been a good citizen...we have to have a path for citizenship, and that’s the fair way to do it.”
In his closing remarks, Bressler spoke about the political division in the country at the state and city levels.
“I will compliment Assemblyman Braunstein. I think between us, we never got personal, it’s all about the policies and the issues,” said Bressler. “In other races it has been personal, and there’s no need for that in the political world. I work with everyone.”
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha
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