Queens candidates to appear at St. John’s political forums

By Anna Gustafson

Queens residents will get a chance to hear individuals running for state and federal office discuss issues affecting their everyday lives at two candidates forums at St. John’s University this month.

TimesLedger Newspapers, the Queens Chronicle and St. John’s are sponsoring the Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 forums at the university. Both forums will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will be held in the Belson Moot Courtroom in St. John’s’ law school. The general public is invited to attend.

“It’s a learning opportunity for the students to not only get to know who the elected officials are, but get a better understanding of the issues dealt with at the state level and federal level,” said Brian Browne, assistant vice president of government relations at St. John’s. “We hope it’s a teachable moment for the students, as well as everyone in the audience.”

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and his Democratic challenger, Tony Avella, will attend Monday’s event, as will state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) and his Republican challenger Timothy Furey and Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows).

Stavisky and Lancman are running unopposed.

“Even though Toby Stavisky does not have an opponent, we wanted her there because she is the chair of the Committee on Higher Education, and Rory Lancman is our local legislator,” Browne said.

Gubernatorial candidates Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic state attorney general, and Carl Paladino, a Republic developer from Buffalo, were asked to attend to the first forum but are scheduled to appear at Hofstra University that evening.

A number of individuals running for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have been invited to the Oct. 25 forum, including U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Schumer’s Republican challenger, Jay Townsend, has confirmed. Republican Joe DioGuardi, who is running against Gillibrand, is also invited.

U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) and his Republican challenger, James Milano, are invited. Milano has agreed to attend.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) has also been invited, and his Republican challenger Asher Taub confirmed he will be there. U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) has received an invite, and his Republican challenger Bob Turner will be there.

A panel of two St. John’s students and reporters from TimesLedger and the Queens Chronicle will pose questions to the candidates. Browne will be the moderator.

For more information, visit stjohns.edu/participate.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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