Bay Ridge Community Council to host congressional debate
Most of the action in the special election for Republican Michael Grimm’s congressional seat is taking place on Staten Island, but Brooklyn voters will get their chance to see the main two candidates up close when the Bay Ridge Community Council holds a debate later this month.
Both Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) and Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, who is the Republican candidate, have been invited to the debate, according to leaders of the Bay Ridge Community Council.
The debate will take place on Tuesday, March 31, at Shore Hill, 9000 Shore Road, starting at 8:15 p.m.
Residents who attend the debate will be encouraged to submit questions in writing. The issues that are expected to come up include: immigration, homeland security, foreign affairs, economy, taxes, Social Security, disaster relief and health services (Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act).
It’s not clear if Green Party candidate James Lane will be invited to the debate. A press release issued by the community council does not mention Lane.
Gentile, Donovan and Lane are running in the special election on May 5 to represent the 11th Congressional District. Former congress member Michael Grimm, who had served two terms, and had won a third term in November, resigned in January after pleading guilty in Brooklyn Federal Court to tax fraud. The district covers the entire borough of Staten Island and includes parts of several Southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods, such as Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend. The majority of the district, approximately two thirds, is located on Staten Island. Brooklyn takes up approximately one third of the territory in the district.
Meanwhile, the candidates are busy on the campaign trail.
On Wednesday, Donovan called for comprehensive reform of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
In a recent “60 Minutes” report, it was revealed that thousands of cases of alleged fraudulent home inspection reports were being used to deny claims to policyholders who filed flood claims after Superstorm Sandy. More than 2,000 victims have filed lawsuits in federal court alleging engineering companies responsible for home inspections doctored reports to minimize damage claims.
“FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program needs a dramatic overhaul,” said Donovan. “The first nightmare people had to go through was the storm itself, then the process of dealing with flood insurance has been a whole new nightmare. It’s unconscionable that after everything victims have gone through after a disaster, the federal government has made it worse,” said Donovan, who noted that Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn were heavily impacted by Sandy.
Donovan vowed that if he is elected, he would spearhead disaster recovery reform in Washington. “God forbid we have another disaster, no one should have to go through the process this way again. These reforms will go a long way toward streamlining the claims process, making it more efficient for victims, as well as FEMA and the insurers,” he said in a statement.
Gentile was focused this week on the budget released by House Republicans, which he said contains drastic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. “This declaration of war on seniors and hardworking Americans is motivated by one thing: politicians putting their party’s radical agenda before the people they represent,” he said in a statement.
The proposed budget would privatize Medicare, sharply cut Medicaid and repeal the Affordable Care Act, according to Gentile. “Their extreme proposal has made one thing clear: a vote for me is a vote to save Medicare and Medicaid. I will fight [for] the thousands of Brooklynites and Staten Islanders who rely on Medicare and Medicaid every single day of their lives,” he said.
James spoke out on international issues. He called for the U.S. to end military and other aid to Israel in the wake of the re-election of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Days before the March 17 Israeli election, Netanyahu had vowed not to support the creation of a Palestinian homeland.
“As a party of peace, the Greens promote nonviolence and [want] all residents of the Middle East to be safe. The reality, however, is that in recent decades the primary victims of violence and the deprivation of basic human rights have been Palestinians. The U.S. unconditional support for Israel—regardless of its actions—has effectively blocked resolving the inhumane conditions that Palestinians are forced to endure and has prevented serious efforts to negotiate a lasting peace,” James said in a statement.
The Bay Ridge Community Council announced on March 23 that the venue for the March 31 debate has been changed. The debate will take place at the Guild for Exceptional Children’s headquarters at 260 68th St. The council also announced that it has invited Green Party candidate James Lane to participate in the debate.
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