The two candidates battling it out for the 15th State Senate District seat in southwestern Queens met for a forum hosted by the Juniper Park Civic Association during its Oct. 18 meeting in Middle Village.
Republican Tom Sullivan, challenging incumbent state Senator Joseph Addabbo in the November general elections, played heavily on his military career as a doer, while Addabbo leaned on his record as a moderate Democrat who works with both parties on legislation and community matters.
Addabbo, who was elected after his time in City Council in 2009, said he has passed more bills in the state Senate over the last year than ever before with one mandating that fees levied from a new Down’s Syndrome license plate will go toward medical research being signed into law by the governor.
“This year, 16 of my bills passed the Senate,” Addabbo said. “I can’t do that without my Republican friends. It’s by working with others regardless of party politics, regardless of who you are for the sake of others and I love doing that.”
Sullivan, who has served for 25 years in the military and currently holds the rank of colonel in the Army Reserves, said he will work to fix the city’s subway system by attempting to hold contractors accountable to completing projects on time.
“My personal political philosophy [is] before you go out and represent the people in the community, you have to have walked in their shoes, and I believe over the last 25 years I have done that in multiple capacities,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan has worked in financial services as an analyst and also owned a Brooklyn eatery for 10 years.
Addabbo said he is working to move along the Penelope Avenue sewer project, stalled for years due to lead in the soil, as well as fighting to keep the communities in his district from being overburdened with homeless shelters.
“Warehousing of large numbers of homeless people, it does not work. It does not work for the community, it does not work for the homeless people,” Addabbo said. “Two billion dollars later and this administration has shown it to be true, it doesn’t work … It creates frustration and anger in our communities that we have not seen in decades.”
Addabbo said he has tried to work with the de Blasio administration for alternative solutions — such as creating new homes through converted shipping containers, as it has been done in California — to no avail.
Sullivan also said he will work to also fight overdevelopment in Queens by opposing property tax increases which he claims forces people to relocate and will be a voice against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to provide free college classes to students who commit to stay in New York for an equal amount of time they were in school following graduation.
“The overdevelopment has gotten out of control; the parking, the hospitals, the schools, the roads can’t bear it anymore. The property owner can’t bear anymore taxes,” Sullivan said.
Addabbo also opposes an all men’s shelter in Ozone Park arguing that it poses a risk to public safety being two blocks from a public school, something he claimed Mayor Bill de Blasio was unaware of.
The Mayor’s Turning of the Tide on Homelessness has attempted to put at least one shelter in every community board in the city in an attempt to house the estimated 60,000 people in the city without a roof over their head.