Candidates explain platforms at Bay Terrace debate forum

By Alex Robinson

A big name was missing from the roster of candidates at a forum in Bay Terrace Tuesday night.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has refused to debate his challengers in his re-election campaign, did not attend the event hosted by the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, but two of his Democratic primary opponents did.

“I think New York is a first-rate state that has third-rate politics.” Democratic candidate Zephyr Teachout told a room of residents at the Bay Terrace Garden Jewish Center. “There’s an old boys club in Albany and I want to go in there and rip it out.”

Teachout said some of her priories were banning hydraulic fracking in New York state and investing more in public transportation.

She ripped into Cuomo for closing the Moreland Commission before it had finished its work investigating corruption in the state Legislature.

“He’s broken so many promises about corruption in Albany,” she said.

“Not only did he fail to pass the reforms, but he created an anti-corruption commission which he then shut down when it got too close to his own friends,” she added.

Cuomo’s Republican challenger, Rob Astorino did not attend the forum, but his running mate for lieutenant governor, Chris Moss, dropped by to stress their message of cutting taxes and creating jobs.

When asked by moderators if he supported a provision in the state budget that offered additional protections to school co-locations, Moss said he was “not familiar with the specific legislation,” but that he supported charter schools.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and his primary opponent, former city Comptroller John Liu, attended the forum.

When asked about his membership in the Independent Democratic Conference, Avella said he joined the break-away group to get things done for his district..

“Unfortunately, as a member of the Democratic conference, you couldn’t get anything done,” Avella said. “And you didn’t elect me to sit there and twiddle my thumbs in the last year in the Senate. You elected me to get things done for the district and the entire state.”

The IDC controlled the Senate with Republicans for the last few years until a recent deal was reached to form a new power-sharing agreement with mainline Democrats.

Moderators asked Liu about the campaign finance investigation into his 2013 mayoral bid, as well as more than $500,000 in unpaid fines for illegal posters his 2009 campaign for comptroller allegedly put up.

Liu said he is fighting the fines in court, as they were unfair and that the probe into his mayoral campaign was politically motivated and did not result in even an accusation against him.

“I am now standing before you as the most thoroughly investigated candidate in New York City,” Liu said.

Attendees got some comic relief when Randy Credico, a comedian and Democratic candidate for governor, took the podium to deliver his political impressions.

“I’ll be honest with you. Every month or two, I smoke a joint,” he said. “I’m the only politician who will admit to inhaling and I will inhale in the future.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) and his Republican opponent Grant Lally also made pitches as to why they should serve Congressional District 3.

Israel touted legislation he has been trying to pass which would create pay equity between men and women.

“My opponents in Congress have said Congress should not get involved in that issue. It’s a workplace issue,” he said. “But the same people support the Supreme Court decision that says the Supreme Court can get involved in a woman’s decision on contraception in a work place. We can do better than that.”

Lally, who is also running on the Conservative and Libertarian party lines, blasted the incumbent for having sponsored only two bills that have become law in his seven terms.

“Whether you like that legislative record or not, he’s had 14 years to do it and I think that’s long enough,” he said.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobi‌nson@‌cnglo‌cal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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