Political candidates recently spoke at the Friends of Rockaway Beach forum, where they affirmed their commitment to address the needs of the Rockaway community.
Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner headlined the forum for the district he once represented in Congress. Democratic mayoral candidates Comptroller John Liu, former Councilmember Sal Albanese and Republicans John Catsimatidis and Joe Lhota also made their cases to the voters.
Borough President candidates Melinda Katz and State Senator Tony Avella, Councilmember Eric Ulrich and his challengers Lew Simon and William Ruiz, and Public Advocate candidates Letitia James and Cathy Guerriero also addressed the packed room.
“We’re going to ask them to tell us their plans for our beaches, our boardwalk, our play areas,” said John Cori, co-president of Friends of Rockaway Beach and the organizer of the event. “We need to hold our elected officials accountable.”
The candidates talked about greater protection for the beach, improving transportation to and from Rockaway and giving the community a greater voice in City Hall.
Weiner, recently scandalized once more for “sexting,” slammed City Hall for creating “hipster-looking concessions” on the beach rather than restoring it. He also demanded extended ferry service, which is set to end by Labor Day.
“Rockaway might be this far away place to City Hall, but it won’t be if I’m mayor,” he said.
Katz then questioned the city’s readiness and response to Sandy, a topic the audience was hoping to discuss.
“Where are the double dunes that will protect the homes?” asked Katz. “Where’s the evacuation plan?”
She also talked about investing in the Rockaways and building it “better than it was.”
Avella blasted both Katz and Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., two leading candidates for Borough President, for their voting records while in the City Council.
Avella’s plan for the Rockaways includes giving the area a railroad line, getting rid of tolls and 24 hours of bus service.
Ulrich touted his record in the City Council and stressed how participatory budgeting gave way to success.
“In those four-and-a-half years, I’ve been able to secure, with your help, millions and millions of dollars in capital improvements and programming for senior centers, for schools, for libraries, to keep our firehouses open,” he said.
His challenger, Simon, gave an impassioned speech about the devastated community and the need to rebuild it.
“There’s no boardwalk. There are no benches. There’s nothing here!” said Simon. “I want to be chair of the Parks and Recreation committee. I want to make sure our boardwalk is built.”
Other candidates for mayor and public advocate also courted the Rockaway vote and spoke about focusing on the Rockaways if elected.