In Bayside, candidates for City Council, mayor, public advocate and borough president took to the pulpit to state their case for election ahead of the Sept. 12 primary election.
Organized by the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, the Aug. 29 candidates forum at the Bay Terrace Garden Jewish Center allowed each hopeful time for an opening statement, question and answer segment, and closing remarks in front of dozens of local residents.
In the local race for City Council District 19, Democratic challenger Paul Graziano began the night. The Flushing native and urban planning consultant expressed concerns about overdevelopment in the neighborhood, educational standards in the public school system and environmental issues.
“We have a lot of areas that are at sea level today in our district that if we don’t take care of them now, we’re gonna have trouble in the future,” Graziano said.
When asked for his thoughts on bringing ferry service to northeast Queens, the candidate said he is “not a huge fan.” Fort Totten, he continued, is not ideal because of its lack of parking, but if the community expressed a desire to bring the service to other waterfront neighborhoods, like College Point, he would explore the idea. He also proposed working to expand express bus service in the area.
Graziano was also critical of de Blasio’s policy on homelessness and common core education, which he said is “limiting.”
“If I see principals, or I see administrators, trying to stop teachers from actually teaching the kids, those are people that need to go,” he said. “It is critical as the representative for the district to intervene and get rid of those folks.”
Incumbent candidate and attorney Paul Vallone later took the microphone and spoke of the progress his office has made over the course of the last four years.
“We put District 19 back on the map,” Vallone said. “How? By working with everyone that’s in this audience. By working with our leaders, our civic groups, our ethnic groups … Everyone had a seat at the table.”
Vallone touted the success of local School Districts 25 and 26, considered to be the best in the city, and his work with the 109th Precinct, which recently saw a 33 percent increase in permanent officers.
The councilman was against recent proposals for congestion pricing, which would bring tolls to the free East River bridges. He also proposed the marina beside Citi Field, which lies outside of the district, as a viable option for a daily ferry service. The marina, he said, is underutilized and there is enough parking to facilitate a park and ride. Fort Totten, he continued, would not be an ideal place for daily ferry service.
“We should always look to make possible [transportation] alternatives for here in the district,” Vallone said.
Tolkin, a tech entrepreneur, was critical of incumbent candidate Mayor Bill de Blasio’s management of the local economy and called for a more “futuristic” approach to fixing the city’s ailing transportation system.
Former NYPD detective, business owner and television personality Dietl was openly critical of de Blasio management of the city’s police department and said he was in favor of broken windows policing. The Ozone Park native also attacked the mayor’s approach to affordable housing and the city’s property tax policy.
Albanese, a former councilman and public school teacher, spoke against the “unfettered development in the city” and said he was not in favor of having a New York State Constitutional Convention. Regarding airplane noise, the attorney said he will “drag [the Federal Aviation Administration] to court” should he be elected.
Public Advocate Letitia James, Green Party challenger and political activist James Lane, and Democratic challenger and history professor David Eisenbach also spoke at the forum. Republican candidate William Kregler, who is challenging Borough President Melinda Katz, was also a speaker.
The Bay Terrace Community Alliance event was moderated by board members Warren Schreiber and Phil Konigsberg.