Candidates flip-flop over issues in St. Albans debate

By Sadef Ali Kully

As the general election date inches closer, the two state Assembly candidates for William Scarborough’s former seat have started flip-flopping on issues that affect the community.

At a debate Tuesday night at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center in St. Albans, Democratic candidate Alicia Hyndman and Republican candidate Scherie Murray answered questions from a two-member panel on topics such as community-based nonprofits and criminal justice reform.

The seat for Assembly District 29—which covers Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Laurelton and Rosedale— opened up in May, when Scarborough resigned after pleading guilty to state and federal corruption charges.

The first question for both candidates was to name their three favorite nonprofits from the district. Hyndman was able to name three right away; Community Youth Care Services, United Black Men of Queens and Our Brothers Guardians, while Murray named two; 100 suits for 100 men and the Veterans in Command, and took a pass on naming her third favorite nonprofit.

Some questions similar to those posed at last week’s NAACP debate were raised, allowing the candidates to clarify their positions or restate their agenda on certain issues.

Both candidates had a change of heart on separate issues from last week’s debate.

On tenure in the Assembly, Hyndman shifted her position.

“Even though the Assembly is in session from January to June—I am going to be working full time for this district,” she said. “In order to be effective you need more than two years, although you can do a lot in two years.”

That was different from the opinion Hyndman gave at the last debate, when she said she approved of a second job as long as it was within the guidelines of the Assembly because the Albany post is a part-time position.

Murray was asked about City Council legislation on bail reform and eliminating prison time for low-level offenders. She said, “I am favor of any initiative that eliminates an extended stay for low-level offenders. I absolutely would support bail reform.”

At the last debate, however, Murray said she was not in favor of bail reform but did support rehabilitation programs.

Hyndman was also posed a question concerning criminal justice reform. When asked about the Close to Home state program, a juvenile justice reform initiative designed to keep youth close to their families and community, she said the program was ideologically a good idea but not practical.

The event was sponsored by eight community organizations including civic associations, churches and business associations.

The general election to fill the state Assembly seat will be held Nov. 3.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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