By Mark Hallum
With election season in full throttle, the Bay Terrace Community Alliance hosted a candidates forum last week at the Clearview Golf Course clubhouse, which drew Democratic candidate for Congress Tom Suozzi and his Republican challengers, Philip Pidot and state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Nassau). State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), his Republican opponent Mark Cipolla and state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), who is not facing an opponent, also took part.
Warren Schreiber, president of Bay Terrace Cooperative, moderated the Aug. 30 panel discussion.
Pidot talked about the ordeal he has been through to get on the ballot. Martins challenged his petition signatures in court and a judge determined that although Pidot had met the minimum, it was too late to hold a Republican primary. Pidot appealed the case in federal court, which ruled last month that there would be a primary on Oct. 6.
He, Martins and Suozzi are running to fill the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville).
Suozzi, the former Nassau County executive, said he had also experienced trouble from Martins in terms of the independent line he petitioned to have added to the ballot known as “Fix Washington.” He contended Martins had filed objections to his petition signatures to have this line thrown off.
Suozzi said the 3rd Congressional District, which includes part of eastern Queens, is a major donor to the federal government through taxes, and, in effect, is subsidizing North Carolina, South Carolina and Arizona. He said he would like to bring money back to the state from the federal government so that New Yorkers are no longer paying for their infrastructure.
Martins explained his attempt to have the primary pushed back to December by making the point that an October primary may hinder the ability of disabled veterans and servicemen and women overseas to vote. He said 50 days between a primary and a general election are needed for all voters to have the opportunity to submit a ballot.
In response to a question about U.S. Rep. Grace Meng’s (D-Flushing) proposal to move airplane noise back under the purview of the EPA, Pidot supported the effort.
“The FAA, no pun intended, have had deaf ears in terms of the decibel problems and health studies that show the current decibel ratings are actually causing physiological problems to residents on the ground,” he said.
Martins said he has had experience dealing with the FAA and Port Authority on airplane noise affecting communities he has served in the state Senate. He displayed a detailed understanding of how sound is measured by DNLs and decibels and said he has taken the issue as far as it will go at the state level.
Suozzi said he would not advocate for more bureaucracy to resolve the issue of airplane noise and would figure out how to combat the matter by eliminating overlapping regulations, which he believes are obstructing progress in lowering the decibel and DNL levels over the district.
Asked about immigration, Martins said he does not support a ban on Muslims entering the country, but is strongly in favor of not accepting refugees from a Syria, where there are not reliable records to show who individuals are or who they are affiliated with.
Cibolla, an attorney by trade and Avella’s Republican opponent for state Senate, said he was in favor of term limits and told attendees that if elected, he would be in and out of office in six years as a matter of principle. He said career politicians are the reason for much of the corruption and lack of action in politics.
Avella was questioned about residents who often have to wait seven months to see a judge when they file a suit in Small Claims Court. Avella admitted this is the first time he had heard about the problem, but said there were not enough judges within the justice system statewide.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall