Bay Ridge

Capano offers ideas on how GOP can win

February 24, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bob Capano told members of the Brownstone Republican Club that Republicans should offer contrasts and solutions. Photo courtesy of Bob Capano
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How can the Republican Party start winning elections in a Democratic stronghold like Brooklyn?

Bob Capano, a longtime Republican activist, said one way to attract voters is to offer a clear message.

Capano, who is eyeing a run at Councilmember Vincent Gentile’s seat in 2017, was the guest speaker at a recent meeting of the Brownstone Republic Club, where he outlined his ideas on how Republicans can win. Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.

“We have a responsibility to present a clear message over the next two years about the direction we want to take our city, and offer a stark contrast to the policies currently being promoted by the City Council speaker and mayor,” Capano told club members at the meeting at Sam’s Restaurant on Court Street.

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Capano said the party should speak out against a proposal by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to decriminalize quality of life crimes.

“I am confident that the vast majority of Brooklynites and New Yorkers, regardless of political party affiliation, do not want to go back to the David Dinkins bad old days,” Capano said. “We must make it clear that we will defend the NYPD and give them the tools and support to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

The GOP needs to broaden its appeal to Millennials, according to Capano, who said the party could do this by addressing the student loan crisis.

Middle class students are being crushed with college debt and it’s affecting the overall economy, said Capano, who teaches political science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“Seventy percent of students borrow to go to college, and the average student debt at graduation has risen 56 percent from 2014 to 2015,” he said.

While Capano noted that solutions should come from state and federal levels, he said local Republicans need to demonstrate their willingness to address the issue.

Capano issued several proposals to fix the crisis, including capping student loan interest rates at 2.5 percent, providing interest-free loans for students who enter public service and suspending interest rates on unsubsidized federal loans while students are in college.

At the meeting, he advocated for the party to speak out more against the de Blasio administration’s public school policies.

As an example, Capano offered the issue of student suspensions. He attacked what he called the loosening of student suspension regulations and charged that disruptive students are permitted to stay in classrooms without consequences.

“There were almost 16,000 violent incidents in NYC public schools last year — an increase of 23 percent and the highest level in a decade. We must change public school policies to create a stronger learning environment in our public schools,” he said.

Joe Nardiello, president of the Brownstone Republican Club said members enjoyed hearing Capano’s ideas. “He has been a longtime friend of the Brownstone Republican Club and is a recognized civic leader,” he said.

Capano, who grew up in Bay Ridge, moved to Staten Island a few years ago and is a member of the Republican County Committee in the borough.

Under New York state rules, if he decides to run for Gentile’s seat, he would not be required to move back into the council district right away, but he would be required to be a resident of the district as of Election Day.


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